Ventolin Inhaler Recall – How Does It Affect You?
Dear Dr. Mahler:
I read last week that Ventolin inhalers were recalled by the company. I don’t know if I need to do anything or not? My COPD has been stable for the past few years as I take Spiriva in the morning and use Ventolin whenever I need some relief of shortness of breath. I usually use Ventolin once a day, especially if I am going shopping or helping to babysit my grandchild. What should I do?
Susan from Silver Springs, MD
On April 4, 2017, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the pharmaceutical company that makes Ventolin, issued a recall of more than 593,000 Ventolin inhalers from U.S. hospitals, pharmacies, retailers and wholesalers. The reason was a defect that may cause the inhalers to deliver fewer doses of the medicine than indicated.
What is Ventolin Inhaler? Ventolin is a a brand name for albuterol sulfate – a quick-acting bronchodilator that relaxes the muscle that wraps around the breathing tubes. It is used by patients who have asthma and COPD as a “rescue medication” to provide quick relief for breathing difficulty. The usual does is two puffs at a time, and it can be used every 4 – 6 hours “as needed.”
There are two other brands of albuterol sulfate – ProAir and Proventil. The different bands of albuterol should be able to be used interchangeably. Pharmacies may give you the brand of albuterol based on a contract
with the pharmaceutical company for a lower cost. Whether you receive any reduced cost is dependent on your local pharmacy or mail order pharmacy.
What Is the Problem with Ventolin Inhalers? GlaxoSmithKline said it had received a number of product complaints about a bulging of the outside wrapper, indicating a leak of the propellant that delivers the medicine. The recall involves three lots of the Ventolin HFA 200D inhalers manufactured at GSK’s plant in North Carolina.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the voluntary “Level 2” Ventolin inhaler recall, which only affects products in the United States.
What Should I Do? The Ventolin inhaler recall does not pose a danger to you or other patients, so you are not being asked to return your Ventolin inhaler. However, it is possible that your Ventolin inhaler may not provide the expected 200 doses. If you do not believe that you received the full 200 doses, you might wish to discuss this with the pharmacist where to bought the inhaler. Consider asking for a free replacement or another brand. Certainly, there is no guarantee that this will happen, but most retail pharmacies want to help their customers and have them return for future business.
Donald A. Mahler, M.D.