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Pharmacy Voice: Greater clarity needed over school inhalers

The legal means for pharmacies to supply salbutamol inhalers in schools has not been considered warns the contractor organisation

Pharmacy Voice has called for greater clarity from the MHRA over its plans to allow pharmacists to supply salbutamol inhalers to schools.

The contractors' representative body supported the medicine watchdog's proposals "in principle" but was concerned that the legal means for pharmacies to supply inhalers to schools had not been considered, it said in its response to an MHRA consultation published last month (May 30)

Current regulations do not allow schools to receive or supply prescription-only medicines and the consultation guidance did not address how this would be overcome, Pharmacy Voice warned.

It called on the MHRA to find a "simple, legal" solution that was "not open to abuse" and suggested that headteachers could be exempted from existing medicines regulations or that salbutamol could be reclassified as a P medicine when it was supplied to schools.

Schools are currently unable to supply or receive prescription-only medicines, which affects the MHRA's schools-supply plans, claims Pharmacy Voice

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The final MHRA guidance for schools should also include information on the "potential resource and advice" that community pharmacists could provide to students about their inhalers, Pharmacy Voice said.

In draft guidance published to coincide with the MHRA's consultation, the Department of Health (DH) suggested the regulations should be changed to allow community pharmacists to occasionally supply "small quantities" of emergency inhalers to schools on a non-profit basis.

But Pharmacy Voice said it could be "outside the scope" of the DH's guidance to state the commercial basis on which a pharmacy should supply inhalers – unless the devices were reimbursed by the government or another public authority.

The MHRA should also give further consideration to how used and out-of-date inhalers would be disposed, the pharmacy body said.

"If the expectation is that community pharmacies will accept them for disposal as part of the NHS-funded waste medicine collection service, this needs to be made clear. They may be eligible for inclusion in inhaler recycling schemes offered by many pharmacies," it said.

Pharmacy Voice added that it looked forward to "working closely" with the MHRA and UK health departments to develop "practical solutions" to manage these issues.

Should schemes such as this be included within pharmacy's global remuneration sum or should they be separately funded?
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Michael Stewart, Community pharmacist

Some good points raised by Pharmacy Voice. lets hope MHRA/DH are listening....

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