Accessing Bronchodilators/Inhalers without prescription for emergency use in School Based Health Centres

  • 24 September 2018

Asthma is a common chronic health condition affecting a significant number of students at school (1:7 children affected by asthma in NZ). It is also not uncommon for a student to be unwell with asthma while at school and for them to not have a bronchodilator available. Unfortunately, this has at times resulted in an inhaler being ‘shared’ in schools, which should be discouraged.

Not every school has the availability of standing orders/ access to doctors, but nurses may be able to discuss the following with their school’s Principal:

It is possible to have a school supply of a bronchodilator for use by students, with a known diagnosis of Asthma, in an emergency when the child’s inhaler is unavailable, and parents cannot be contacted in a timely fashion.

This is of particular interest to nurses working in schools, where there is no access to standing orders, or MPSO supplies.

Principals can access bronchodilator inhalers for their school’s emergency treatment kit without a prescription. These inhalers can only be used by teachers or trained staff for the emergency treatment of student asthma. The inhalers must be used in line with Asthma Foundation of New Zealand procedures. These inhalers must be obtained from a pharmacy and a written order signed by the principal of the school must be given to the pharmacy. This approval, issued by the Medical Officer of Health, expires on 19 November 2018 but is anticipated to be renewed and Principals will be informed closer to the expiry date.

The 'Authority to Procure Prescription Medicines’ (Authority no 2013/A175) can be obtained by emailing: and they will provide it to Nurses to pass on to their Principals. It is also available in the Asthma Foundation Emergency kit for sale on their website

We hope that this information will be useful to you, please feel free to write a comment/question in the comments section.


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  • Kate Vaaulu
  • 8 Feb 2019
  • 3:12 pm

thanks you for posting this, I have used this with good success. I work in the Bay of Plenty and our standing order does not cover first aid / sickbay staff and teachers to give salbutamol. many thanks.

  • Joyce Waugh
  • 25 Feb 2020
  • 3:15 pm

Its great for schools to be able to obtain Ventolin inhalers without a prescription from the pharmacy

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