asthmaAfter receiving overwhelmingly supportive feedback from health professionals on changing the law to allow schools to hold emergency salbutamol inhalers, the Government has passed the Human Medicines (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2014.

These Regulations amend the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, to allow schools to hold stocks of asthma inhalers containing salbutamol for use in an emergency. These regulations come into effect on 1st October 2014.

From this date onwards, schools can buy inhalers and spacers (the plastic funnels which make it easier to deliver asthma medicine to the lungs) from a pharmaceutical supplier in small quantities provided it is done on an occasional basis and is not for profit.

A supplier will need a request signed by the principal or head teacher (ideally on appropriately headed paper) stating:
• the name of the school for which the product is required;
• the purpose for which that product is required, and
• the total quantity required.

The Department of Health has also consulted on draft non-statutory guidance to support schools in England in their management of inhalers, and has revised this to take on board comments received from respondents. It is hoped that the current draft guidance covers the major implementation issues raised in the consultation. DH will continue to refine the guidance in the light of any further comments received – particularly from schools as they implement the new arrangements.

As devolved administrations, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will have respective responsibility for issuing guidance for their schools.

Approximately 20 children of school age in England and Wales die every year from asthma and most deaths occur before the child reaches hospital. A survey from Asthma UK found that 64% of children with asthma have at some point been unable to access a working reliever inhaler in school, having either forgotten, lost, broken or run out of their own. 62% of children with asthma have had an asthma attack while at school.