McLean, Va. (Sept. 12, 2013) – Today, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which would encourage states to require that schools keep lifesaving epinephrine on hand, was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and co-sponsored by 20 other senators. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) has been working toward passage of this legislation for the last two years in its efforts to ensure that the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis is readily available to all students.
The introduction of the bill in the Senate brings this potentially lifesaving legislation one step closer to passage. The companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) already was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 30.
The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act encourages states to adopt laws requiring schools to have “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors, which is epinephrine that is not prescribed to a specific student but can be used for any student or staff member in an anaphylactic emergency. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and can be fatal.
“We would like to thank Sens. Durbin and Kirk for their strong support of this legislation, and we encourage their fellow senators to show their own support by co-sponsoring the bill,” said John L. Lehr, chief executive officer of FARE. “We hope that one day, every school in the nation is stocked with epinephrine. We know that epinephrine saves lives, and that allergic reactions can occur at any time and without warning. We look forward to approval of this legislation in the Senate so that it can be signed into law by the President.”
“For the 50 million young people across the country, the public school they attend every day is a place to learn, to make new friends, and to be exposed to new things. For a small number of these children – about 1 in every 13 – school lunchtime or a classmate’s school birthday party can risk exposure to foods that can cause a severe and life-threatening reaction. In some cases, the consequences of exposure to the wrong food can be fatal. But more often than not, the worst case is preventable,” Senator Durbin said. “Schools can be prepared for these situations by having epinephrine on hand, and trained staff to administer it in the few minutes they have to save the life of a child experiencing a severe allergic reaction. This bill encourages states to take these precautions, and I will work with Senator Kirk and my Senate colleagues to ensure that we’re taking every appropriate step to protect kids in their schools.”
"Millions of kids across the U.S. are at risk from potential allergic attacks while at school," Senator Kirk said. "When children are exposed to a severe allergen, swift and safe administration of epinephrine can be life-saving. Our bill provides qualified, trained staff the ability to prevent an allergy-related fatality by administering an epinephrine injection immediately. I will continue to work with Senator Durbin and my colleagues to ensure our children stay safe in school." Thirty states now have laws or guidelines in place allowing schools to stock undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors, with four states currently requiring it. The proposed federal legislation would provide an incentive for states to require schools to stock epinephrine.
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 have endorsed the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.