What to Do If Your Albuterol Inhaler Is Backordered

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Posted on

In December 2015, Ventolin HFA (albuterol) inhalers were recalled. The reason for the recall: there were a small number of canisters that did not have enough propellant—meaning the inhalers wouldn’t deliver the full 200 puffs the labeling promises.

See this announcement from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) regarding the Ventolin HFA shortage.

Which manufacturer and strengths are affected?

The shortage is affecting GlaxoSmithKline’s Ventolin HFA, in both sizes (8 gram and 18 gram) of the metered dose inhaler.

You may have other options if you can’t get Ventolin HFA:

There are actually three different brand-name albuterol inhalers available in the US. Unfortunately, no generic alternatives are currently approved.

Be aware though—if you have insurance, your plan may only cover one of these options. If Ventolin HFA your only covered albuterol inhaler, your pharmacist or your doctor may be able to help you appeal for an override. Contact your individual plan for more information.

Are any of the other albuterol inhalers unaffected by the shortage?

What’s the reason for the backorder?

GlaxoSmithKline couldn’t provide a reason for the shortage. However, the recent recall is more than likely the cause.

When will Ventolin HFA be available again?

According to GlaxoSmithKline, the 8 gram inhaler will be available again late this month (February 2016), however, they do not have an estimated release date on the larger 18 gram inhalers at this time.

What can you (and your pharmacist) do about the Ventolin HFA backorder?

You and your pharmacist have a few options, depending on your doctor, your insurance, and the availability of Ventolin HFA:

Drugs featured in this story

Filed under