Product: Salbutamol inhalers
Issue: Increased demand for salbutamol inhalers due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to reported shortages and limited supply of this product in Canada. Health Canada is taking steps to mitigate the impact of the shortages and is providing advice to Canadians on how to conserve supply.
What to do: Continue taking your regular medication for the maintenance of your respiratory condition as prescribed. This will keep your condition under control and reduce your need for salbutamol to relieve acute symptoms (rescue medication).
Salbutamol relieves the acute symptoms of medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory conditions, such as coughing, wheezing and feeling breathless. It relaxes the muscles of the airways, making it easier to breathe.
Some manufacturers have reported shortages of this product on www.drugshortagescanada.ca because of an increase in demand related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, to manage and conserve supply, most patients will receive only one inhaler at a time when they go to refill their prescription.
Health Canada understands the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and recognizes that Canadians may be concerned about not being able to get the medications they rely on for themselves and their loved ones.
The health and safety of Canadians is Health Canada's first priority. We are working closely with other federal departments, provincial and territorial governments, international partners, and industry to help minimize the impact of this shortage and to help ensure that Canadians have access to the drugs they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes exploring access to international supplies and working with companies that are able to ramp up production, to increase supplies in Canada.
To help conserve supply of all medications, the Department recently advised Canadians not to purchase more medication than they need, and asked health professionals to avoid prescribing or dispensing larger supplies of medication than necessary, to help prevent shortages caused by increased demand.
In addition, on March 30, 2020, the Minister of Health signed an Interim Order permitting the exceptional importation and sale of drugs needed to prevent or alleviate the effects of shortages directly or indirectly related to COVID-19. This followed legislative amendments made to the Food and Drugs Act on March 25, 2020, that enable Health Canada to put in place more robust tools to support efforts to help prevent and alleviate shortages. Health Canada will continue to use these and all other tools at its disposal, to prevent shortages where possible and to mitigate the impacts on Canadians when shortages do occur.
Canadians are encouraged to visit drugshortagescanada.ca for up-to-date information about drug shortages and estimated re-supply dates. Patients with questions or concerns about a drug shortage may also wish to speak to their health care professional.
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