Requests for salbutamol inhalers

We are being inundated with requests for salbutamol inhalers.

Clearly it is important that people are able to manage their conditions well and safely.  It is understandable that there might be a worry that you might get wheezy if you get COVID-19, and it is important and sensible to make sure you have an inhaler available, if you have an active lung condition. 

From what we are seeing, it seems as though people may be very worried that inhalers may not be available and so they are ‘stocking up’ just in case.  There has been no information to suggest that there will be a shortage of inhalers.  Of course, the chance of a shortage increases if people do stock up to an excessive degree.  It is very similar to the panic buying we are seeing in supermarkets.

It is very important that we make sure that salbutamol inhalers are going to patients who are highly likely to need them, and that they are being issued in reasonable quantities.

It is clear that some patients have a definite, ongoing, active lung condition such as COPD or asthma, and that the request for an inhaler fits a usual and sensible pattern of ordering. 

Some patients who haven’t used an inhaler for many years, or for whom there is no evidence of a definite, active lung condition, seem to be requesting an inhaler now. 

Some patients seem to be ordering very soon after their last prescription. 

We are asking you to please be sensible and reasonable in your requests.  The worst case scenario is that patients who really do need inhalers can’t get them, when there are inhalers in the community that will never be touched.

If we feel there is no evidence that the request is appropriate we may decline the request.  If your request is declined we hope you will understand why.  Of course if you become ill with COVID-19 (or any other bug) and you start to be wheezy, you can and should ask for an inhaler at that time.

For some requests, our medicines team will getting in touch with you to ask some more questions.

For some requests we will ask for you to speak with a doctor.


Further Information