A bill sponsored by Legislator Susan A. Berland creating the “Know the Difference” asthma education campaign and requiring stores in Suffolk County that contain pharmacies to post notices about asthma inhalers passed the Suffolk County Legislature.
Approximately 50% of adults and 40% of children with asthma do not have control of their asthma and utilizing appropriate medication can significantly improve their condition.
There are several types of asthma inhalers that are available to consumers. When they are used incorrectly or are accidentally interchanged, poor outcomes may result which include avoidable hospitalization. The “Know the Difference” campaign was created to address these concerns. The new law requires all stores with a pharmacy in Suffolk County to post the “Know the Difference” sign to provide patients with necessary information on the proper use of these drugs. The sign, developed in conjunction with the Asthma Coalition of Long Island, the Allergy & Asthma Network, the New York State Children’s Environmental Health Centers, the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services displays examples of “rescue” and controller medications. The sign will be available to consumers in English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole, the three most widely spoken languages in Suffolk County.
“Given the current public health crisis, it is more important now than ever to launch the “Know the Difference” campaign to help patients understand and control their asthma. Respiratory health is at the forefront of all of our minds and now is the perfect time to act,” said Legislator Susan A. Berland. “The ‘Know the Difference’ campaign will serve as a tool to supplement the vital role that pharmacists play as part of a patient’s healthcare team. This legislation further bolsters Suffolk County’s reputation as a national leader in improving public health.”
The bill was co-sponsored in a bipartisan fashion by Vice Chairwoman of the Health Committee Legislator Leslie Kennedy and Legislator Jason Richberg.
“I applaud Legislator Berland on this life saving initiative. As a Nurse for 30 years, I have seen what can happen when patients use a Maintenance Inhaler instead of a Rescue Inhaler during an Asthma attack. It can be deadly. Repeated education by MD’s, Nurses and Pharmacists can only be assisted by the supplementation of this sign!” said Legislator Leslie Kennedy.
“I am proud to co-sponsor I.R.1318,” said Suffolk County Legislator Jason Richberg. “I feel strongly that displaying educational posters on the proper use of asthma inhalers in pharmacies across Suffolk County is an important initiative that will make a real difference. The saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ but the image that will be displayed is worth much more, as it will help save lives. I want to thank the resolution’s sponsor, Legislator Susan Berland, for her hard work in ensuring that we as elected officials do everything in our power to keep the public informed and safe.”
"Even in the best of circumstances, a patient that knows the difference between their rescue medication and their controller medications can better control their asthma and potentially avoid a respiratory emergency,” said Anne Little, MPH, Director of Health Promotions for the American Lung Association in New York. “In today’s environment, with the added risks of COVID-19, that knowledge can be lifesaving. We applaud Legislator Berland for her leadership on this issue and are grateful to all the pharmacies and pharmacists who have been our dedicated partners in community care."
"The Asthma Coalition of Long Island has long been working to connect our community in support of every child with asthma,” said Alexandra Kranidis, MPH, Director of the Asthma Coalition of Long Island. “Providing asthma self-management education programs is a key part of empowering people with asthma to live full and active lives. Reaching families at the pharmacy counter is a natural place for this education to take place, and we look forward to working with pharmacists and their teams to make the most of this important opportunity."
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When to use a control or a rescue inhaler is paramount. Suffolk County once again underscored the importance of consumer knowledge through the recent passage of the “Know the Difference” poster that will be displayed in every pharmacy across the County,” said Karen Miller, Founder Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition. “Thank you to Legislator Susan Berland and your colleagues on the passage of this bill. The pharmacist is critical to our healthcare model and this poster will enhance educational interactions between the consumer and our chosen healthcare professionals.”
“Our community, coming together to make a difference in asthma care – all colors, shapes and sizes of all of these asthma devices, communication is key!” said Dr. Catherine Kier, MD, Pediatric Pulmonologist and Chairwoman of the Asthma Coalition of Long Island.