Who can administer an adrenaline auto-injector (epipen®) to a casualty in an emergency?

The law gives a very clear and simple answer to this question: ANYONE CAN.

In 2012 the Medicines Act was broadened to state that any lay person can administer adrenalin for the purpose of saving a life. Before 2012 the law stated that the lay person had to have been appropriately trained.

The Law in Detail - Human Medicine Regulations 2012


Usually in the UK the Medicines Act means that a lay person cannot administer a prescription medication to another person. This is stated in Regulation 214:

(1) A person may not sell or supply a prescription only medicine except in accordance with a prescription given by an appropriate practitioner.

(2) A person may not parenterally administer (otherwise than to himself or herself) a prescription only medicine unless the person is—

(a)an appropriate practitioner other than an EEA health professional; or

(b)acting in accordance with the directions of such an appropriate practitioner.

The exception to this is the administration of specific prescription only medicines, including adrenaline, when the purpose is to save a life. This is stated in Regulation 238:

Administration of certain medicines in an emergency

Regulation 238. Regulation 214(2) does not apply to the administration of a prescription only medicine specified in Schedule 19 where this is for the purpose of saving life in an emergency.

Adrenaline is one of the drugs listed in Schedule 19

Why should I train my staff / employees in how to administer adrenaline auto-injectors if the law doesn't require it?

Workplaces such as schools also have other statutory guidance which must be followed in order to support pupils at school with medical conditions. Any member of school staff may be asked to support pupils with medical conditions (such as anaphylaxis) and the school must ensure that the school staff taking on this role receive sufficient and suitable training and achieve the necessary level of competency before they take on this responsibility.

The ability of your staff to recognise the signs and symptoms of a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction and their confidence to act promptly in administering treatment whilst the casualty's epipen is being located and once they have the medicine will be vastly improved by attending a training course.

If you are not a school but your employees commonly come into contact with people, not just other employees, who suffer from severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis and carry adrenalin auto-injectors then we would highly recommend that they are trained to both recognise the signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction and also to administer adrenaline auto-injectors.

Just because the law states than ANYONE CAN administer adrenaline in an emergency, life-saving situation certainly doesn't mean that ANYONE WILL actually recognise the severity of the situation and ACT PROMPTLY to help the casualty and potentially save their life. Training could be the difference between life and death!

What is an adrenaline auto-injector?

Once someone has suffered from a server allergic reaction they are commonly prescribed two adrenaline auto-injector pens to carry with them should the same thing happen again. People often refer to these injectors generically as "Epipens", however Epipen is a brand of injector and there are two other common brands in use in the UK; Jext and Emerade.

Learn the differences between each of these devices by reading our article on How to use an adrenalin auto-injector.

React First anaphylaxis recognition and adrenalin auto-injector (epipen) training courses

All React First trainers are skilled in the delivery of anaphylaxis training. Our anaphylaxis and epipen first aid courses cover all of the training requirements of the Resuscitation Council (UK).

The courses are all fully assessed meaning that certificates of competence are issued rather than simply an attendance certificate. Hence all courses meet the Department for Education requirements that staff have received suitable training and also that they are competent. 

  • Practical First Aid for School Staff Course - 6 hours
    This course covers all essential, life-saving first aid techniques as well as the practical training required to train staff to use adrenaline auto-injector devices such as Epipen and also to administer emergency salbutamol inhalers to children with asthma.

From September 2014, schools in England will have to meet a duty to support children with medical conditions, including anaphylaxis, and follow statutory guidance issued by the Department for Education. The statutory guidance and further signposting are available to read online here. This course is designed to support staff in their role supporting children with medical conditions in school.

Visit our First Aid for Schools page to read more about this course, prices and how to book.

  •  Anaphylaxis and Adrenaline Auto-injector (epipen) training - 4 hours

    This course covers:
    - recognition and treatment of severe allergic reactions
    - communication and casualty care
    - dealing with an unconscious casualty
    - different types of auto-injector –  EpiPen, Jext and Emerade devices
    - correct use of an adrenalin auto-injector
    - CPR resuscitation – adult and child

Visit our First Aid at Work page to read more about this course, prices and how to book.

Emergency Salbutamol Inhalers in Schools

You may also be interested to read more about recent other changes to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012. From 1st October 2014 inhalers containing salbutamol can be supplied in schools in an emergency by persons trained to administer them to pupils who are known to require such medication. Read more here >>

Download DfE Statutory Guidance Supporting Children at School with Medical Conditions