FAIRFAX, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Today Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (S.1884), legislation championed by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN™). This bill encourages states to require that schools maintain a supply of epinephrine, the medication of choice to treat severe allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis, and to train staff to administer epinephrine in case of emergencies.
On Tuesday, FAAN CEO Maria Acebal, Rhonda Adkins (wife of country music superstar and FAAN Celebrity Ambassador Who Cares Trace Adkins) and daughter Brianna visited Capitol Hill to meet with U.S. senators and representatives to gain support for this legislation. Brianna, age 10, is allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. As one of the nearly 6 million children with a food allergy, she understands firsthand the risk of anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. On Tuesday, the fourth-grader shared her story and showed a number of legislators how easy it is to administer an epinephrine auto-injector.
“Schools need to be prepared to treat allergic reactions in the event someone’s epinephrine auto-injector isn’t available or if they are having a reaction for the first time,” said Rhonda Adkins. “I once saved a woman’s life by using my daughter’s epinephrine auto-injector when the woman had an allergic reaction to a bee sting at a school event. If the school had stock epinephrine auto-injectors they would have been able to help her.”
Several states, including Illinois and Georgia, have already passed similar laws. Senators Kirk and Durbin have introduced the legislation at the national level to encourage more states to be prepared to treat reactions.
In addition to protecting those whose epinephrine auto-injector isn’t immediately accessible during a reaction, this legislation will help save the lives of those who experience an anaphylactic reaction and don’t have a prescribed epinephrine auto-injector. Studies estimate that up to 25% of all epinephrine administrations that occur in the school setting involve students and adult staffers whose risk for allergy was unknown at the time of the event.
“We are grateful to Senators Durbin and Kirk for introducing this groundbreaking legislation to protect all children at risk of anaphylaxis. We want our schoolchildren to have access to life-saving epinephrine, should they need it,” said FAAN CEO Maria L. Acebal.
Acebal paid tribute as well to Rhonda and Brianna Adkins for traveling to Washington to support the Durbin-Kirk bill. “It was remarkable to see 10-year-old Brianna Adkins join her mother to walk the halls of Congress and speak on behalf of the 6 million American children with food allergies.”
“I am honored to introduce bi-partisan legislation with Senator Durbin which encourages schools across the United States to prevent allergy-related fatalities,” 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. It is my hope this legislation prevents senseless tragedies and affords children suffering from severe allergies a measure of safety while they attend school.”
“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.”
In addition to FAAN, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and the National Association of School Nurses have also submitted letters of endorsement for the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.
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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