New “life-saving” allergy treatment kits for asthma attacks and anaphylaxis have been made available to schools across the UK.

Hertfordshire-based healthcare company ARK has worked with medical charity Allergy UK and pharma firm Crest Medical to launch a new safety scheme in primary and secondary schools.

ARK has developed two emergency rescue kits, one of which contains adrenaline auto-injector pens to treat anaphylaxis — a severe allergic reaction — and another containing salbutamol inhalers with a spacer delivery system for asthma attacks.

Both products contain documents explaining how to use the devices.

The tamper-proof kits are intended to be mounted on walls in high-risk areas, such as school dining rooms, allowing rapid access by staff to treat potentially fatal incidents, according to ARK.

The devices are portable, making them a useful addition to first-aid kits taken on school trips.

ARK director John Eshelby said: “I watched my sister grow up with allergies and severe asthma, I know first-hand how petrifying an attack can be and how fast you need to

“The idea was very simple— let’s improve the odds of survival in the case of severe reactions by increasing awareness and accessibility to emergency treatment at schools.

“Hopefully, ARK will, in some way, help to do this and ultimately save a life, should an emergency situation arise.”


How the law around allergy treatment in schools has changed

Previously, auto-injector devices and inhalers could not be obtained by schools without prescriptions — even for use in emergencies — as per Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) guidelines in the UK.

Under these regulations, children would only have access to these devices if they had obtained one via prescription.

As such, emergencies would rely on either the child or a member of staff at the school knowing how to properly use the treatment.

allergy treatment salbutamol
Salbutamol — often marketed as Ventolin — is a medication used to treat asthma attacks by opening up the medium and large airways of the lungs (Credit: Pixabay)

But in October 2014, the DHSC changed its regulations to allow schools to buy salbutamol inhalers, without a prescription, for use in emergencies.

In October 2017 the DHSC made another amendment to its regulations, allowing schools to obtain adrenaline auto-injector (AAI) devices without requiring a prescription.

Both of these changes came with the qualifier that emergency asthma and allergy kits should be used when a child’s own device is not available, or not working.