Salbutamol and adrenaline

Pharmacists may supply over-the-counter Schedule 3 (S3) medicines:

  • salbutamol inhalers
  • adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjectors

to schools, kindergartens, childcare services or similar organisations.

Rules for supply

Previous legislation specifically allowed schools, kindergartens and childcare services to purchase, store and administer adrenaline auto injectors for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis and salbutamol inhalers for emergency treatment of asthma. This provided an ability for educational organisations to keep lifesaving medicines on hand, to treat children under their care, in an emergency.

Current regulations permit organisations such as schools, sporting clubs, scout groups, churches, camps, and other similar organisations to administer these medicines in an emergency. This recognises that emergencies may arise in places other than schools.

Pharmacists may be asked to supply these items to a school or organisation where a specific patient and a therapeutic need cannot be not readily identified. In this circumstance supply is permitted, but must be related to the official activities of the school or organisation.

Pharmacists must still exercise due professional judgement regarding verification of requests, quantities supplied, and counselling offered. The supply of any S3 medicine is at the discretion of the pharmacist who is legally obliged to determine safety prior to purchase.

Safety considerations for pharmacists include:

  • establishing bona fides of the organisation and the person purchasing the medicine
  • a genuine need exists and quantities are reasonable for the intended use
  • use is for official purposes of the organisation and there is no overuse or misuse
  • there is adequate control of access (safe and secure storage).
Resources

Pharmacists are expected to counsel and educate on safe use as usual. Pharmacists may also wish to direct purchasers to clinical or workplace guidelines and resources on correct emergency management of these conditions, such as:

Having an adrenaline auto injector or salbutamol for general use (e.g. in first aid kits) is an additional measure to the prescribed or personal medication of individuals. They must not be viewed by organisations as a substitute for individuals at high risk of anaphylaxis or asthma from needing to carry or have access to their own personal supplies of prescribed life-saving medicines.

Other considerations

The supply of adrenaline or salbutamol to an organisation must meet usual regulations, including that the medicines must remain fully packaged and labelled as normal.

Wholesaling to organisations by the pharmacy is not permitted. Supply must be on an individual basis, for retail quantities only and for local use. For example, an organisation may not purchase 100 inhalers to distribute across the state. Please contact the Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch for further advice.

A person or organisation can administer a S3 medicine, but may not sell or supply the medicine to another person or organisation. If an organisation uses an inhaler or injector it must be replaced by the organisation and supplied by the pharmacy. It is not possible to charge the individual administered the medicine or to request that they provide a replacement.

More information

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch
Mailing address: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
Phone: 9222 6883
Email: poisons@health.wa.gov.au