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Researcher Works with American Lung Association in Arizona to Change Law on Asthma Medication in Schools

Dr. Lynn Gerald, associate director for clinical research at the Asthma and Airways Disease Research Center at the University of Arizona, had research proving that when schools had access to asthma medication on hand, there was a decrease in students who needed emergency services. However, the law in Arizona restricted who could administer the medication to students, so Dr. Gerald went about changing the law and asked the American Lung Association in Arizona for help.

Arizona state allows students to carry inhalers to school, but students aren’t always able to get albuterol—the asthma medication that is in inhalers — needed to relieve an episode. They may have left their inhaler at home and their parents are unable to bring it to school. More importantly, not all families can afford to have an inhaler for home and one for school. In serious asthma episodes, the child may need to be admitted to the hospital. Having an inhaler on hand could easily relieve asthma symptoms and send the student back to class.

With this information and research-backed stats, Gerald worked with the Lung Association and Rep. Heather Carter to write a bill that would allow doctors to write prescriptions for albuterol for schools, and allow trained staff to administer the medication to a student in distress.

The bill passed handedly and became law in August 2017.

Now, Dr. Gerald and her colleagues are creating template protocols and policies to help schools adapt the program and online trainings to teach non-medical licensed staff about asthma and administering the medication. They are also helping schools learn ways to better work with children who have severe asthma or difficulty with adherence.


Dr. Lynn Gerald testifies in front of the Arizona State Legislature in favor of a bill to allow trained staff to administer asthma medication to students in distress.

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