Shortage of liquid asthma medication has Arizona mom on high alert

A drug used in asthma inhalers is disappearing from pharmacy shelves and an Arizona mom worries about how it'll impact her two daughters.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 8:49 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A medication to help treat asthma in kids is disappearing from pharmacy shelves. This is because there’s a shortage of liquid albuterol used in a machine called a nebulizer. It’s more commonly used by young kids dealing with asthma.

For Cassidy McBride’s daughters, a simple day on the trampoline could trigger an asthma attack. McBride is a mother of three and her two young girls have been diagnosed with severe asthma. “It happens so fast for them, within 30 minutes they’ll start to cough and then suddenly they can’t breathe,” she said.

McBride described one of the most recent hospitalizations back in September. “You can see her ribs her chest is popping, and so it’s torture. As a mom there’s only so much I can do,” she said.

Not only will this season have a greater impact on you, but some of the medication you might need may be harder to come by.

During the worst attacks, she says it takes albuterol treatments every two hours for 24 hours straight until they feel better. “One of the first things they did was start airflow with albuterol in it and that’s what essentially, the oxygen and albuterol is essentially what helped her come back to life,” McBride said.

Dr. Gary Kirkilas says the liquid albuterol shortage is a supply chain issue. “There was a major plant that closed down leaving us with limited supplies,” he said. He says hospitals and pediatricians always work around shortages. “We’re automatically tying to get kids off the nebulizer and into an inhaler anyways,” Kirkilas said.

He advises parents to avoid triggers that could induce an attack for their kids. “That’s what’s a struggle for us because they ride their bikes everyday, they run everyday and they don’t have an issue. And then one time, they’re triggered,” McBride said.

Cassidy McBride's daughter was hospitalized in September.
Cassidy McBride's daughter was hospitalized in September.(Cassidy McBride)

She says not knowing if there will be albuterol the next time she needs it is something she can’t even think about. “I can’t even go there in my head. I’m terrified that without it kids won’t survive it,” McBride said.

She says she fills her prescription for albuterol monthly, one for each of her daughters. If your usual pharmacy runs out, Dr. Kirkilas says it’s also good to check with your doctor to see if there is another medication that’s available.