People with asthma and COPD are being urged to refrain from stockpiling their medications during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
The Asthma Society of Ireland has reassured the 380,000 people with asthma in Ireland, and the 500,000 people with COPD, that there is no national shortage of medications for these conditions.
Asthma Society CEO, Sarah O'Connor, said that the organisation has been liaising closely with the Irish Pharmacy Union, 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," she explained.
She noted that in recent weeks, people with asthma and COPD have been contacting the society to express their concerns about some pharmacies running out of particular medications.
However, she insisted that 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," Ms O'Connor said.
Meanwhile the HSE's National Clinical Respiratory Programme and the Asthma Society are advising all people with asthma and COPD to visit the society's website here for information on COVID-19
"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," commented Des Murphy, clinical lead of the programme.
The Asthma Society is also warning people with asthma and/or COPD to only trust reputable sources for information and advice on their condition. Recently, there have been a number of stories circulating on social media which contain false medical information.
"It is of the utmost importance that patients only look to reputable sources for any information/advice. 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," Ms O'Connor said.
She added that the society's adviceline is being "inundated" with calls.
"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."
The asthma and COPD advice line can be reached on 1800 44 54 64. Advice on COVID-19 is available here.
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