In a bid to reduce the number of asthma related deaths, UK schools will now be able to hold stocks of salbutamol inhalers for the urgent treatment of asthma attacks.

This move follows a consultation by the MHRA and the UK health departments in May 2014 where there were more than 4000 responses in support of changing the law.

The necessary amendment to the Human Medicines Regulations came into effect on 1 October 2014. This provides a legal basis for the supply of a POM at the request of a head teacher.

Read our Pharmacy Excellence module. This provides detail on the legislation changes as well as practical advice that can be given to schools to encourage the safe management of medicines.

From 1 October 2014 schools are able to purchase salbutamol inhalers and spacer devices from pharmacies for the emergency treatment of asthma attacks.

To make a supply the pharmacist will need a written request signed by the principal or head teacher, ideally on headed paper, that includes the following details:

  • Name of the school for which the inhaler or spacer device is required
  • Purpose for which the product is required
  • Total quantity required

Pharmacists must make an entry in the POM register to record all supplies of salbutamol inhalers to schools.

For schools in England the Department of Health has issued guidance on how emergency inhalers should be stored and administered safely.

Guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is expected shortly, although supplies can still be made in the absence of this.