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First Aid Training

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 27 November 2019

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Questions (146)

Niamh Smyth


146. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health his plans to introduce an awareness campaign and-or training scheme for the public in the use of emergency medicines such as EpiPens; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49262/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In 2015 the then Minister for Health introduced the 'Emergency Medicines' legislation. This allows an appropriately trained non-medical person or a pharmacist to supply and administer specified prescription-only medicines, without a prescription, to an individual for the purpose of saving life or reducing severe distress in emergency situations.

The medicines that are included in this initiative are:- adrenaline auto-injectors (epipens) (for the treatment of anaphylaxis), glyceryl trinitrate (for the treatment of unstable angina), salbutamol (for the treatment of asthma attacks), glucagon (for the treatment of diabetic hypoglycaemia), naloxone (for the treatment of opioid overdose) and medical gas mixture consisting of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen (for the management of severe pain when used by emergency rescue organisations e.g. mountain rescue teams). 

These provisions are contained in S. I. No.  449 of 2015 which amended the Prescription Regulations to allow these prescription-only medicines to be administered by trained members of the public in emergency situations. In order for an organisation, which can include schools, workplaces and other public places, to avail of an emergency medicine without the need for a prescription, members of that organisation must complete an approved course of training regarding the administration of such medicines and the management of any adverse reaction. The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) has established a framework for the education and training of persons to safely and competently administer this medicine to those urgently requiring care.

It is important to note that there is nothing to prevent a person with a diagnosis of anaphylaxis who has been prescribed an Epipen from carrying their prescribed medication with them at all times, in fact this personal action is strongly recommended. This is particularly important for persons at risk of an acute medical emergency, such as an anaphylactic attack. 

Furthermore, medicines legislation permits any person to administer any medicine to another person in accordance with the directions of a registered medical practitioner. Therefore, if a person has been prescribed a medicine, but is unable to administer it to themselves, such as in the case of an overdose, there is no legal impediment to another person administering that medicine to the patient. {Regulation 4A(1)(c) of the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 2003, as amended) (S.I. No. 540 of 2003)].