Infectious Disease

Albuterol inhalers should be part of back-to-school supply planning

August 10, 2022

1 min read

Source/Disclosures

Disclosures:
Winders reports employment as president and chief executive officer of Allergy & Asthma Network.

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Since 2004, students with asthma had the right to self-carry and self-administer their quick-relief albuterol inhaler while at school. But what happens if the inhaler is left at home or lost during the school day?

With millions of children heading back to school, availability of quick-relief albuterol inhalers at school would help ensure appropriate and timely emergency treatment for students experiencing an asthma flare.

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Albuterol is the medication inside a quick-relief inhaler that relieves wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Rescue inhalers are available through prescriptions, although over-the-counter availability has been proposed.

Asthma is a significant health concern in the United States, with 6.3 million children diagnosed with the condition according to the CDC. It is also a leading cause of school absenteeism, accounting for a total of 13.8 million school days per year.

Asthma flares should be treated at the first sign of symptoms. Any delay increases the risk for hospitalization. By ensuring schools have emergency supplies of stock albuterol on site, we can keep all children with asthma safe.

However, the costs of providing these supplies to schools and of training school personnel to use them are primary challenges in implementing these programs.

In 2021, the School-Based Asthma Management Program Act (HR 2468), introduced by US Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), became law. It gives federal funding preference to states that encourage schools to stock albuterol inhalers.

The bill also allows trained school personnel to administer the inhaler when necessary and implement school-based asthma management programs to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for children with asthma.

Allergy & Asthma Network is now working with the 16 states that have passed legislation to allow stock albuterol in schools. Charmayne Anderson, our director of advocacy, has said that “immediate access to emergency asthma medications is critical for schoolchildren with asthma.”

For more information:

Tonya A Winders, MBA, can be reached at twinders@allergyasthmanetwork.org.

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