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Petition 578676 calls for a change in the law to allow salbutamol inhalers to be supplied for emergency use in commercial kitchens:

In 2014 the Human Medicines Act was amended so that schools could keep emergency stocks of salbutamol inhalers without prescription. Asthma is increasing in the UK and we believe that adult sufferers of Asthma working in high-risk commercial kitchens should have similar life-saving support.

In 2020 Chef Lauren Reid tragically suffered an Asthma attack whilst at work. That day Lauren did not have her inhaler with her and days later she sadly passed away. If an Emergency Asthma kit had been on site, she may still have been with us now.

If high-risk commercial kitchens were allowed the same rights as schools to support their employees in an emergency situation we believe that Lauren will not have died in vain.

The petition raises the case of Lauren Reid who died following an asthma attack at work in a commercial kitchen.  A website, Lauren’s Law, provides more information about the call for a change in the law, and supporters of the campaign:

We believe that the dangers of Occupational Asthma are very real and increasing and recognised ‘triggers’ such as flour, fumes, heat, dust, odours, and a lack of fresh air are common within the Catering Sector, meaning that employees in this sector are at an exceptionally high risk of an Asthma attack.

Laurens Mother, Elaine Cunningham, has started this campaign and is supported by Unichef, The National Chefs Union. We know that Laurens death should not be forgotten and, in her honour, we need to ensure that needless deaths in the workplace should never happen.

Lauren died doing the job she loved, help us to ensure that in the 21st century we do all we can to prevent incidents such as this.

The Government responded to the petition on 25 August.  It said that the licencing authority can consider exemptions to the rules on prescription only medicines in certain circumstances and that evidence would need to be gathered to support an exemption.  The response provides some information about the process required for an exemption to be introduced:

 […] The Human Medicines Regulations controls the safe sale and supply of medicines in the UK. Some medicines are classified as prescription only medicines because they could result in harm if used without medical supervisions even if used correctly or they are frequently used incorrectly and may cause harm. Prescription only medicines such as asthma inhalers can only be exempt from prescription control, which includes restrictions on who can hold such medicines, in certain specific circumstances. To introduce an exemption in the legislation, for example for inhalers to be held in a commercial kitchen for emergency use, evidence would need to be gathered to support the need for the change, to show that the medicine could be safely handled and used in the proposed emergency circumstances and that risks identified have been satisfactorily mitigated. Any interested party can submit this information.

  If after taking advice from the Commission on Human Medicines, the Licensing Authority considers that the benefit of the change outweighs the risks then a public consultation on the exemption would be taken forward. Based on feedback received from the consultation, a final decision would be made on whether or not to amend the legislation. If so it would need to be underpinned by guidance for all stakeholders and interested parties to ensure that the necessary safeguards were in place to implement the change safely and to ensure that it can be implemented effectively to meet the proposed need. […]

This debate briefing provides information on the e-petition, occupational asthma and how prescription only medicines are regulated in the UK.

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