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Asthma medication shortage continues during allergy season: What it means, and what to do

Thanks to the winter rains followed by wildflower super blooms, some Arizonans are experiencing an extra intense allergy season.  

Albuterol is commonly used to treat asthma, which allergies can make worse. But the FDA has listed it as being in short supply since October 2022. Now, that shortage could pose extra hurdles for allergy sufferers.

Hitendra Chaturvedi is an ASU economics professor. He said with albuterol still in short supply, this allergy season creates “a perfect storm of sorts.”

Chaturvedi said without a lot of inventory stored up, if anything goes wrong in producing or delivering a product it has a kind of “domino effect” on the entire supply chain.

“You have a supply chain that does not have anywhere to turn because there is no inventory of stock,” Chaturvedi said.

One major manufacturer of albuterol shut down in February, leaving Nephron Pharmaceuticals to pick up the demand. Chaturvedi also warned consumers not to hoard.

“The moment people start to do that, it has got a very, very strong domino effect on the supply chains,” he said.

Economists have given this advice since the early pandemic — and now, so are doctors.

“They’re saying that there are alternatives, don’t worry about it,” Chaturvedi said.

Chaturvedi recommended turning to your doctor for alternatives. In the future, he said he hopes to see more risk mitigation involved with supplies of potentially life-saving drugs like albuterol.

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.