People with asthma should continue to use their inhaled asthma preventer medications during the COVID-19 epidemic as prescribed.
Some sources have suggested that “corticosteroids” should be avoided during the COVID-19 epidemic. This advice is not directed at people with asthma and their health professionals who use inhaled corticosteroid-based preventer or those with asthma who need to use oral corticosteroids to manage their flare-ups (attacks).
People with asthma should not stop their prescribed inhaled corticosteroid preventer medication and should not avoid using their prescribed oral corticosteroids to manage severe symptoms. Stopping inhaled corticosteroids often leads to worsening of asthma, and 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. Always discuss with your doctor or nurse before stopping any asthma medication.
The corticosteroid in your asthma preventer inhaler doesn’t affect your body’s ability to fight against viral infections like coronavirus.
Keep taking your inhaled asthma preventer medication, and if your asthma gets worse, follow the instructions on your asthma action plan for how to change your asthma medications and when to seek medical help.
Asthma Australia is aware that during the COVID-19 Pandemic there have been some temporary shortages of reliever medicines (eg Ventolin and Asmol) and some preventer medicines (Symbicort and Flixotide) in local pharmacies due to higher than expected demand. Advice received by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (the Government agency responsible for the quality and availability of medicines in Australia) is that there is plenty of medication in Australia and stock is being replenished in affected pharmacies.
We strongly urge people to be considerate of their purchasing so that everyone can access what they need. Stockpiling medications is resulting in challenges for people to access vital medication and placing them at risk.
People with asthma are advised to have access to at least 30 days of prescription medications. A blue or grey asthma reliever (SABA) puffer contains 200 metered doses and most preventers are designed to last at least one month. Asthma Australia encourages people to use a spacer with all metered-dose (canister) inhalers to draw maximum benefit from their medication which might also reduce the amount required and minimise side effects.
If you do not have access to blue or grey reliever medication and you are experiencing difficulty in breathing, call triple zero 000 immediately.
Online medication ordering is available. To help you social distance and access medications, people with asthma can order reliever or preventer medication at some outlets, online. Note that dispensing restrictions apply to reliever puffers, one per person, and some outlets aren’t offering reliever puffer sales online. It is always helpful to call your local pharmacy to check stock levels ahead and ask if they have an online ordering service. Here are some 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 but these do not deliver, only click and collect.
Read the advice around buying medicines online here