| Legislation Championed by Food Allergy Research & Education Encourages Schools to Stock Lifesaving Medicine
McLean, Va. (Nov. 13, 2013) – President Obama today signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act during a ceremony attended by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) CEO John L. Lehr, members of FARE’s board of directors and key congressional sponsors. This historic and potentially lifesaving legislation is the first federal law encouraging schools to stock epinephrine for use in allergic emergencies, and has been championed by FARE for more than two years.
"I want to thank all the outstanding legislators who are here, and advocates. This is something that will save children's lives," said President Barack Obama during the signing ceremony. The President also mentioned that his daughter, Malia, has a peanut allergy.
The law, passed by the Senate on Oct. 31 and by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 30, encourages states to require schools to keep lifesaving epinephrine on hand and ensure school personnel are trained to use it. The bill received strong bipartisan support and was passed by unanimous consent in both chambers.
“We are thrilled to see this legislation signed by President Obama and thank him for bringing national attention to the need to protect students with food allergies,” said John L. Lehr, CEO of FARE, who was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Rob Nichols and Amie Rappoport McKenna, members of FARE's Board of Directors. “It is our hope that this legislation serves as the catalyst for states to recognize the need to not just allow schools to stock epinephrine, but to require this important medication be available to our students and empower school personnel to save lives.”
FARE has championed this legislation since 2011, bringing the daughter of country music star Trace Adkins to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress in support of the bill. Brianna Adkins, who visited Capitol Hill with her mother Rhonda, has multiple food allergies and is credited by one of the bill’s original co-sponsors, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., (R-Tenn), with being one of the “best lobbyists” he has talked to in Washington, D.C.
In spring of 2012, FARE brought parent advocates to Capitol Hill to inform legislators about the critical need for this legislation. Among the parent advocates who attended was Laura Pendleton, whose daughter Amarria died just months earlier of an anaphylactic reaction at her elementary school. The bill was re-introduced this session in the House by Roe and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), and in the Senate by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)
The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act incentivizes states to adopt laws requiring schools to have stock epinephrine auto-injectors by giving these states preference in eligibility for federal asthma education grants. Thirty states now have laws or guidelines in place allowing schools to stock undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors, but only four states (Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia) currently require it.
In addition to FARE, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and the National Association of Elementary School Principals endorsed the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.