KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Liquid Albuterol is a medication most commonly used to help treat people struggling with breathing problems or asthma. The Food and Drug Administration has had the drug listed on its shortage list since October, something officials said won’t be changing anytime soon.

The FDA said the shortage will not be ending anytime soon, considering a major US supplier to hospitals across the country shut down. Akorn, a pharmaceutical company, closed its manufacturing facilities just last week.

For the past two years, the company has struggled with bankruptcy and closed facilities in Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

Dr. Nicholas Kolinsky, Pediatric, Adolescent and Adult Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunologist for The Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center, said this is a very important drug because it’s one of the few that can be used to treat adult and child patients.

“Albuterol is usually used as a rescue medication for multiple lung problems but symptoms of shortness of breath, chest tightness. It’s used to relieve that,” said Kolinsky.

Kolinsky also said that with spring coming up, allergies are only going to get worse from here on out, so the medication will be needed more than ever.

“So, allergy season is here and there is a lot of tree pollen out, a lot of mold is peaking during this time of the year, and if you have allergic asthma or an allergic trigger to your asthma symptoms, it’s vital to have some of these medications,” he said.

Akorn’s Illinois facility was licensed to make liquid albuterol, which is used by hospitals for nebulizers, common devices that turn medicine into a mist to be inhaled. The shutdown of that plant leaves just one US supplier of the drug left. Products from the one remaining major domestic source of liquid albuterol are on backorder and different areas are experiencing different supply issues.

Hank Peck, a Pharmacist at Long’s Drug’s Store, said he and his staff are struggling to fill prescriptions for their patients.

“There are other makers of the drug, so it’s not limited to one supplier. That’s not to say it’s not available somewhere else because right now, we haven’t been successful in trying to get any,” said Peck.

The FDA released a statement on its website regarding the drug shortage.

“Drug shortages can occur for many reasons, including manufacturing and quality problems, delays, and discontinuations. manufacturers provide f-d-a most drug shortage information, and the agency works closely with them to prevent or reduce the impact of shortages,” FDA officials said.

Kolinsky and Peck said it is best to talk to your doctor about what to do if you are having trouble finding the drug or getting your prescription filled. There are other alternatives or you could use a different dosage.

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