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Arkansas medical experts concerned after pharmaceutical supplier closes

1 of only 2 U.S. manufacturers that made liquid albuterol closed all facilities, impacting hospitals in need of the crucial nebulizer drug.

A recent pharmaceutical closure has experts concerned about the Albuterol shortage.

According to the Associated Press, pharmaceutical company Akorn closed all of its facilities in the U.S. The company made Liquid Albuterol used in continuous nebulizers.

Already on the Food and Drug Administration's Drug Shortage List, it creates concerns as Akorn was one of only 2 fully operational manufacturers in the U.S.

Julie Stewart with Medical Arts Pharmacy in Fayetteville said they've been experiencing the shortage here in the natural state.

"We've had sort of sporadic availability of the albuterol for nebulizers. But in the last probably a couple of weeks especially, it's become almost completely unavailable," said Stewart.

The Mayo Clinic describes the drug as an adrenergic bronchodilator that opens up air passages in the lung. Stewart says there are alternatives to the medicine, such as inhalers or Levalbuterol, but the drug was one widely used in children's hospitals.

Dr. Keith Robinson is a pulmonary and critical care physician who says that "my daily activities require that I have adequate rescue and health therapies for not just my subjects and trial, but also patients. And so for me, the idea that we're running short on a crucial medication that has helped many patients stay safe and more importantly, symptom-free, is quite concerning."

"When patients have an emergency, and they require quick assistance, we rely on those nebulized forms of albuterol, in order to give quick relief. And I think that the hospitals typically will try and stock as much as they can," said Dr. Robinson.

The other manufacturer, Nephron, remains operational but the FDA lists them in shortage.

"When there's a huge demand it's going to be hard for them to keep up, and there have been issues with not only the medication— just think about all the packaging, the little plastic ampules that they go in, I mean, all of those things can create supply issues," Stewart said.

In the meanwhile, Dr. Robinson says the FDA should look at other countries to supply Albuterol and that patients look for other treatments.

"The things I would tell my patients are the things that every clinician that works in asthma should remember— which is that if you still have an albuterol puffer, typically we would like you to continue to try and utilize your rescue inhale puffer therapies, especially with a spacer," said Dr. Robinson.

According to CBS, the FDA is assessing how the Akorn closures may affect drug supply chains nationwide.

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