EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — People battling asthma may have a hard time getting live-saving medication with the coronavirus causing some pharmacies to run low on an important rescue inhaler.

Video shows 14-year-old Louis Alaimo hitting basket after basket. You wouldn’t know the star point guard has battled asthma his entire life.

“It’s hard to keep going when you don’t have, like, all of your, you know, full lungs,” he told CBS2’s Cory James.


Now, he’s facing a potential new fight, one that is off the court and involves a growing shortage of his albuterol inhaler because of COVID-19.

“If this goes more than three months, there’s only so much we have. If that runs out, that would be bad,” he said.

Something that concerns Louis’ mom, Melissa.

“I think every parent is worried right now,” she said.

Worried because pharmacies like EZ Care Pharmacies in East Orange, New Jersey, went from getting an unlimited supply of albuterol to only three units per day.

RELATED STORY: Pharmacies Running Low On Prescriptions For Other Conditions

Pharmacist Rosa Mathew says because of that, she has been calling distributors and manufacturers several times a day for help.

“Get out as much as they can to the little mom-and-pop pharmacies especially because we don’t have as much buying power as the big companies like Walgreens and CVS do,” Mathew said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explains what is likely causing the albuterol shortage.

“Hospitals may be stockpiling it to have something for some of their other patients, asthma patients, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] patients who might also be coming in. Patients with asthma or COPD, they may be trying to stockpile it. And the really sad part would be people who are, for lack of a better term, worried well may be stockpiling it or getting some of it because they think, well, if I have difficulty breathing, I don’t know whether it’s coronavirus or anything else, I want this as an emergency,” he said.

Gomez says people should not do that because albuterol works specifically on lung issues that are different from what the coronavirus causes.


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