Asthma hospitalizations are on the rise

2 min read



"Many people experience asthma symptoms during the spring allergy season. A shortage is particularly concerning following a winter where RSV, Covid-19, and the flu already had hospitals scrambling." - Dr. Shyam Joshi, M.D. and CMO at Nectar

What is albuterol?

Albuterol is an asthma and respiratory drug and one of the top 10 most prescribed medications in the U.S. It’s used in inhalers and nebulizers to treat patients with breathing problems and illnesses like asthma and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) by helping with wheezing, difficulty breathing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

It is facing a shortage of its liquid version (used in nebulizers as albuterol alone or in a product called DuoNebs®) following the closure of several manufacturing plants. As the transition from winter respiratory illnesses to spring allergy season begins, hospitals will face challenges managing this shortage.

Why is there a shortage of albuterol?

May 2020
Akorn Operating Company LLC, a major manufacturer of the drug, filed for bankruptcy at the start of the COVID pandemic.

October 2022
Liquid albuterol made the US Food and Drug Administration's shortages list and remains there. This is in addition to other medications facing a shortage including children’s Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin, which are all used to fight off RSV.

February 2023
Akorn shut down completely, further worsening the drug shortage. There is now one remaining domestic producer of liquid albuterol, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, and their supply is on backorder.

What does this mean for the spring allergy season?

Hospitals already faced challenges managing respiratory illnesses like RSV, the flu, and COVID throughout the winter. As we transition to the spring allergy season, the shortage poses issues for patients with allergic asthma.

What are my options?

- Discuss with your provider if using expired inhalers is appropriate as they may still be partially effective
- Contact your healthcare provider or allergist for alternative medications
- Do not overuse your inhaler
- If you have allergic asthma, consider a long-term solution like allergy immunotherapy

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