Some sources have suggested that “corticosteroids” should be avoided during the COVID-19 epidemic. This advice is not directed at people who use types of corticosteroids to manage their asthma. People with asthma should continue to use their prescribed asthma preventer medications during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Preventers (inhaled corticosteroids)
People with asthma should not stop their prescribed inhaled corticosteroid preventer medication. Stopping preventer treatment often leads to worsening asthma. The corticosteroid in your preventer does not affect your body’s ability to fight against viral infections like COVID-19.
Oral corticosteroids (e.g. prednisolone)
People with asthma should not avoid using their oral corticosteroids if prescribed by their doctor. These are still an acceptable strategy to manage severe asthma flare-ups. Avoiding oral corticosteroids during severe asthma attacks may have serious consequences.
Long-term oral corticosteroids may sometimes be required to treat severe asthma, and it may be dangerous to stop them suddenly. Never stop any of your prescribed medication without discussing your concerns with your doctor or treating team.
General advice about asthma treatments
Although asthma does not appear to be a risk factor for COVID-19 infection, some evidence suggests that recent poor asthma control or recurrent flare-ups of asthma could be associated with severe COVID-19 disease which may be related to the need to use oral corticosteroids to control these flare-ups. The best advice, therefore, is to do all you can do with your doctor to prevent asthma symptoms and reduce the risk of having a flare-up.
Asthma Australia is aware that during the COVID-19 pandemic there have been some temporary shortages of asthma medicines in local pharmacies due to higher than expected demand. This includes relievers (e.g. Ventolin and Asmol) and some preventer medicines (Symbicort and Flixotide). We continue to monitor the TGA website for signs of supply shortages and continue to be ready to engage with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that the safety of people with asthma is not compromised. Please reach out to Asthma Australia directly if you become aware of a supply problem for your essential asthma treatment.
Further to this, we urge people to be considerate of their purchasing so that everyone can access what they need. People with asthma are advised to have access to at least 30 days of their prescription medications.
- An asthma reliever puffer like Ventolin or Asmol contains 200 metered doses.
- Most preventers are designed to last at least one month.
Asthma Australia encourages people to use a spacer with all puffers to draw maximum benefit from their medication. This may reduce the amount required and minimise side effects.
If you do not have access to your reliever medication and you are experiencing difficulty in breathing, call triple zero 000 immediately.
Over the past 18 months in Australia, online medication ordering has become available in many pharmacies. This means that once you obtain a prescription for your asthma medicine, you can replenish your asthma medications even when self-isolating. You will still need to supply the pharmacy with your prescription for medicines like preventers. Check with your pharmacy for clear instructions on how to do this.
Note that dispensing restrictions apply to reliever puffers, one per person. Some outlets aren’t offering reliever puffer sales online.
Here are some online ordering options we’ve come across:
- The MedAdvisor App
- TerryWhite Chemmart (deliver)
- Amcal (deliver)
- Other options include the Priceline Pharmacy App and The Chemist Warehouse App
Read the advice around buying medicines online here