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Regulator backs improved access to asthma inhalers in schools

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The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has launched a consultation on providing access to salbutamol asthma inhalers and an appropriate spacer for emergency use in schools.

It is calling for views from school nurses, respiratory specialists and other stakeholders on changing the safety regulations, which it is seeking to do with the support of the government.

Under current legislation – the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 – there is no provision for schools to hold stocks of asthma inhalers for emergency purposes because they are prescription-only medicines.

But, following an evaluation of the risks and benefits, the MHRA has made a recommendation to the Department of Health for the regulations to be amended to allow schools to hold a salbutamol asthma inhaler for use in emergencies.

Any change in the legislation would not make holding an inhaler plus an appropriate spacer mandatory, but it would allow schools to hold a spare asthma inhaler for those that wished to do so.

Dr Sarah Branch, MHRA deputy director of vigilance and risk management of medicines, said: “Our recommendation is that the UK legislation should be amended in this way to reduce distress for children suffering from asthma and make its management in schools easier.”

The Department of Health has developed guidance with relevant stakeholders to support schools’ use of inhalers and spacers, which is included as part of this consultation.

The consultation runs until 30 May 2014. Visit the MHRA website to take part.


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