Photo of child holding an asthma inhaler case up view

Young female in white t-shirt using blue asthma inhaler

Certain areas of the United States are experiencing a shortage of albuterol quick-relief inhalers, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI).

The shortage occurred due to supply chain issues and increased use of albuterol inhalers in hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients in respiratory distress.

The shortage involves Teva’s ProAir HFA, GlaxoSmithKline’s Ventolin HFA and generics produced by Teva, Prasco and Par Pharmaceuticals, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

Merck’s Proventil HFA albuterol inhalers are unaffected by the shortage. Teva’s dry powder albuterol inhalers – ProAir Respiclick and ProAir Digihaler – are also not affected by the shortage.

Manufacturers recognize the problem and are expediting delivery, releasing reserve supplies and exploring an extension of expiration dates with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

ProAir HFA and its generic will be resupplied in pharmacies by late-March 2020, while Ventolin HFA and the other generics will be allocated as they become available, ASHP says.

What to do if you’re unable to get your albuterol inhaler?

  • Contact your allergist or primary care doctor – other inhaler options are available, according to ACAAI.
  • Visit GoodRx.com to search for other pharmacies in your area that may be able to fill your prescription.
  • Check your inhaler to see if it still contains medicine in it. If necessary, you can likely use your expired albuterol inhaler as it probably is still at least partially effective, ACAAI says.
  • Follow your Asthma Action Plan and avoid your asthma triggers to prevent flare-ups.
  • Remember to not overuse your albuterol inhaler, ACAAI advises. One canister should last for months. If you’re using your albuterol inhaler more than twice a week to relieve symptoms, that’s a sign your asthma may not be well controlled and you should see an allergist.

Allergy & Asthma Network is calling on pharmacy benefit managers and payers to expand formularies to ensure all branded and generic albuterol inhalers are accessible for patients. The Network also encourages patients to ensure they have albuterol inhalers on hand but also to not hoard this lifesaving medication.

For additional help and information, please check out our Asthma Medication Assistance webpage listing manufacturers and their contact information.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critically important that asthma patients continue to take their medications as prescribed – in addition to following CDC-recommended prevention guidelines such as regular hand-washing and social distancing.