Proposed Bill Aims to Treat Anaphylactic Reactions in Schools
FAIRFAX, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Legislation that would help put lifesaving medicine in the hands of school personnel and help protect millions of children in the U.S. with potentially life-threatening food allergies – as well as others with undiagnosed food allergies – will be introduced this week on Capitol Hill as the result of efforts by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) of Illinois. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN™) has championed this legislation to lawmakers and will continue its outreach until this bill is made law.
Nearly six million children in the U.S. have food allergies. Many are at risk for anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. Earlier this year, the state of Illinois passed a law that allows schools to obtain and administer a non-student specific prescription for epinephrine, the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis.
Studies have shown that as many as 25 percent of epinephrine administrations in schools involved individuals with a previously unknown allergy. As a result, they do not possess their own prescription for epinephrine.
“This law could potentially save the life of an elementary school student whose parents didn’t know he or she had any food allergies or a high schooler whose reaction was so severe that he or she required a second dose of epinephrine but only had one auto-injector at school. When someone experiences anaphylaxis, every second counts,” said FAAN CEO Maria L. Acebal. “We are committed to working with lawmakers to pass this bill and we are extremely grateful for Sen. Durbin and Kirk’s leadership and support.”
Under the proposed federal bill to be introduced later this week, entitled the School Access to Emergency Act, states allowing schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine and administer it to a student having an anaphylactic reaction would be given a preference when federal funding is allocated for asthma education and prevention grants.
The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act is sponsored by Durbin (D-IL) and Kirk (R-IL) and supported not only by FAAN and other national nonprofit organizations such as the Food Allergy Initiative, but also by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“For young people, school 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,” said Sen. Durbin. “Schools can be prepared for these situations by having epinephrine auto-injectors 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.”
“For the millions of children suffering from serious, potentially fatal allergies, the safe and expedient administration of epinephrine can mean the difference between life and death,” said Sen. Kirk. “This bill encourages schools throughout the nation to prevent allergy-related deaths by allowing trained, qualified staff to administer epinephrine to a student suffering from a severe allergic reaction.”
Durbin and Kirk attended an event at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago on Monday to discuss the bill. FAAN member Mary Lenahan, along with her daughter and FAAN Teen Advisory Group member Alex Simko, were on hand to show their support.
Several states have already passed laws allowing schools to stock epinephrine and to allow school personnel to administer it to any student believed to be having an anaphylactic reaction.
Founded in 1991, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is the world leader in information about food allergy, a potentially life-threatening medical condition that afflicts as many as 15 million Americans, including almost 6 million children. A nonprofit organization based in Fairfax, Va., FAAN has approximately 22,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and 58 other countries. It is dedicated to increasing public awareness of food allergy and its consequences, to educating people about the condition, and to advancing research on behalf of all those affected by it. To become a member or for more information, please visit FAAN at www.foodallergy.org.
Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
Director, Marketing and Media Communications
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