(CNN) – Liquid albuterol is a medicine commonly used to treat people with breathing problems, but the drug has been in short supply, and the shortage is expected to get worse.
Albuterol has been on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s shortages list since October.
The shortage is expected to worsen following the shutdown of a major supplier to U.S. hospitals.
Dr. Juanita Mora, a national volunteer medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association, said the organization wants to get ahead of the problem before it becomes disastrous for many people.
“We want to make sure that everyone is prepared,” she said.
Products from the one remaining major domestic source of liquid albuterol are on backorder, and different areas are experiencing different supply issues.
At Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, the stock of the drug will depend on demand for the next few weeks.
Michael Storey, a medication use specialist at the hospital, said they continue to receive shipments periodically but unexpectedly.
“It’s ultimately something that we’re continuing to monitor to make sure we have the drug that is needed for our patients,” he said.
Mora said she is advising her patients to make sure their albuterol inhaler is on hand and not expired.
She said anyone who can’t find the liquid form of the medicine can use the inhaler instead.
Albuterol inhalers don’t seem to be impacted by the shortage at the moment.
“It works just as well at opening up the lungs, especially if there’s wheezing, shortness of breath, cough or inflammation of the airways,” Mora said.
Supply priority will be given to hospitals to treat those experiencing emergencies.
“If you already have albuterol in liquid form at home there’s no need to rush and get more,” Mora said.
The allergist said there are also other medications that can help. She said to talk to your doctor about options that are right for you.
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