Epinephrine in the Schools Bill: Lobby Your Senator
Two U.S. Senators have joined forces to create a law that will make allergic children safer at school – and you can help ensure the bill becomes law.
On November 17, 2011, Senators Dirk Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which encourages all states to require that schools maintain a supply of epinephrine and train staff to administer the life-saving medication in case of emergencies.
Earlier this year, the state of Illinois passed a law that allows schools to obtain and administer a non-student-specific prescription for epinephrine. Studies have shown that as many as 25 percent of epinephrine administrations in schools involved students with a previously unknown allergy – which means they wouldn’t have their own auto-injector. The approximate cost to schools to maintain their own epinephrine stock is $100.
The new proposed bill, numbered S.1884, has the full support of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI), as well as the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). All of have submitted letters of endorsement for the proposed act.
“I am honored to introduce bi-partisan legislation with Senator Durbin which encourages schools across the United States to prevent allergy-related fatalities by adopting policies allowing trained staff to administer epinephrine to a student exhibiting symptoms of an allergic reaction,” said Sen. Kirk.
“Millions of children throughout the United States suffer from severe, life-threatening allergies. When these children are exposed to a severe allergen, swift and safe administration of epinephrine is often critical for their survival,” he said. “It is my hope this legislations prevents senseless tragedies and affords children suffering from severe allergies a measure of safety while they attend school.”
Under the proposed federal bill, states allowing schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine and administer it to a student having an anaphylactic reaction would be given preference when federal funding is allocated for asthma education and prevention acts. “Children with asthma are more likely to have food allergies,” the Senators noted to Allergic Living.
The funding preference created in the bill is not new. In fact, the bill builds on the Asthmatic Schoolchildren’s Treatment and Health Management Act of 2004, which created a preference for asthma-related Health & Human Services (HHS) grants to states with laws allowing students to carry inhalers and epinephrine auto-injectors to school, and self-administer them if necessary.
Next page: What you can do to help