Ventolin is missing from many pharmacies. Should patients be worried?

Ventolin is missing from many pharmacies Should patients be worried

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    in collaboration with

    Dr Gérald Kierzek (Medical Director of Doctissimo)

    Ventolin has been increasingly difficult to find in pharmacies for several weeks. However, this inhaled medication is essential for asthmatics during their attacks. According to the laboratory that manufactures it, strong global demand explains the situation.

    In a press release dated June 7, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures Ventolin, confirms that “The number of doses on the market was not enough to respond” to the needs of French patients. A situation which has persisted for several weeks and which worries many asthmatics.

    A shortage that comes at a bad time, at the height of the grass and pollen season

    Ventolin, which comes in the form of a blue inhaler, is a medication that helps dilate the bronchi of asthmatic patients at the time of their attack. Crisis likely to be triggered by pollens and grasses currently found in the air, France being classified “red”, on alert for pollen and therefore respiratory allergies.

    A situation that should not last

    It is therefore in the middle of the pollen season and therefore of increased risk of asthma attacks that the shortage of Ventolin occurs. Or more precisely supply “tensions” “in places in France”, according to the laboratory.

    GSK ensures that it is doing everything possible to allow all patients to be able to obtain their medicine quickly, saying it is “confident” to resolve the situation “quickly enough” and ensuring that it is “at maximum production capacity” on its French site.

    In addition, the group’s Spanish production site should also provide “reinforcement of stock”, to avoid prolonging this situation, which is unpleasant to say the least for patients.

    Implement inventory management for patients

    On France Info, the National Medicines Safety Agency assures that the GSK laboratory has “informed that the stocks available to date of Ventolin and for the majority of dosages of Seretide (alternative drug, editor’s note) should make it possible to cover the needs of patients“.

    Nevertheless, she asked the laboratory in return “management measures” be taken”in order to secure the situation in the city and preserve available stocks.

    A shortage linked to the increase in allergic people in France

    According to Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of Community Pharmacists’ Unions (Uspo), whose comments are reported by France Info, the selling price of the drug in France would be part of the explanation. “The price of Ventolin is 4.60 euros in France while it is around 32 euros in Italy. This difference should not help ensure that the French market is supplied.” he believes.

    According to Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of Doctissimo, “people with allergies and asthma are increasing all over the world, for different reasons: it is estimated that one in 3 people is allergic today and in 2050, forecasts predict one in two people!”.

    Furthermore, notes the doctor again, “there is a lot of self-medication with Ventolin: it should be remembered that salbutamol, although very effective in unblocking an attack, requires specialized medical advice, an allergy-pneumological assessment and discussion on the implementation of treatment background. Otherwise, there is a risk of aggravating an asthmatic illness, for example. he concludes.