The Asthma Society of Ireland is assuring the 380,000 people who have asthma in Ireland, and the 500,000 people with COPD that there is no national shortage of asthma and COPD medication and appealing to patients to refrain from stockpiling medications during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, said: “The Asthma Society has been liaising closely with the IPU, the HSE, the Department of Health and with various pharmaceutical companies who have reassured us that there is a good stock of asthma and COPD medications in Ireland.
“There is no need to order extra medicines than you need for the coming month. This will affect the supply of medicines for others. There is no disruption to the supply of medicines – our Irish supply chains are well-stocked, established and reliable.
“Over the past two weeks, we’ve had people with asthma and/or COPD reaching out to us expressing their concerns that some pharmacies are running out of medications for asthma and COPD.
“But there is no need to be concerned about this. Re-stocking of pharmacies with these medications was delayed over the weekend due to people with respiratory illnesses panic-buying medications to last several months in recent weeks. We have been reassured that this minor delay was temporary and has been resolved with deliveries to pharmacies in recent days.
“Although it is very important to ensure you have enough medication to comply with instructions given by your doctor, at this current critical time, we are calling on our people with respiratory illnesses to please ensure they only purchase enough medication for one month.
“Panic buying” in this manner is resulting in others with respiratory illnesses unable to access essential medication. During this uncertain time, please be considerate of others.”
The HSE’s National Clinical Respiratory Programme and the Asthma Society are advising all people with asthma and COPD to visit asthma.ie for questions in relations to coronavirus and their condition.
Des Murphy, Clinical Lead of the National Clinical Respiratory Programme, said: “We are delighted to approve the Asthma Society’s coronavirus page on asthma.ie as a trusted resource for people with asthma and COPD.
“It is extremely important that people with asthma and/or COPD do everything possible during the current coronavirus pandemic to ensure their condition is managed as well as possible. The Asthma Society’s coronavirus page also contains some great resources for asthma and COPD management.”
The Asthma Society is also warning people with asthma and/or COPD to only trust reputable sources for information/advice on their condition(s). This warning comes following a number stories containing false medical information came to light this week.
Sarah O’Connor, added: “It is of the utmost importance that patients only look to reputable sources for any information/advice people with asthma and/or COPD. The Asthma Society of Ireland’s website www.asthma.ie hosts specific information for people with asthma and/or COPD on the coronavirus.
“It contains a comprehensive ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section which answers the most common questions on the coronavirus, along with some very specific ones, along with essential information on how to manage your asthma and/or COPD at this time.
“All information on our coronavirus pages has been reviewed and approved by the HSE and by the HSE’s National Clinical Respiratory Programme.
“We are also urging people to ensure any information they share themselves is from a reliable source. The spreading of misinformation on asthma/COPD management may put lives at risk and causes unnecessary fear and distress to patients and their families.
“During the past week, we noticed that a lot of people on social media were advising others to avoid taking their preventive inhaler steroids. The HSE has advised that patients with long-term illnesses should continue taking their prescribed medications unless advised otherwise by their healthcare professional.”
Des Murphy, added: “Over the past two weeks there has been false information making its way around social media advising people with asthma and COPD to avoid taking preventative steroids for their condition.
“It is extremely important at this time that people with asthma and/or COPD continue to take their preventative medication as advised by your healthcare professional unless he/she advises them not to do so. Failing to do so could result in an unnecessary asthma attack, which for some, prove fatal.
The Asthma Society’s Asthma and COPD Adviceline is currently experiencing an unprecedented volume of calls in relation to the coronavirus.
Sarah O’Connor, concluded: “We are inundated with calls to our office and our free Adviceline service about the coronavirus. We are endeavouring to respond as quickly as possible, but there are delays. Please bear with us. We know how worried you are and we want to give you all the advice we can.”