Bill requires schools to prepare for allergy emergencies by having stock of EpiPens
HARRISBURG — Michele Rossi of Lebanon County sends her 8-year-old daughter to school with an epinephrine auto-injector in case she has a severe allergic reaction, but worries about other students who may not know they have an allergy or be as prepared.
Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, introduced a bill on Tuesday that requires all schools to stock epinephrine auto-injections, commonly known as EpiPens, to treat severe allergic reactions. Schools would need to keep the medication in a secure location and train personnel to administer the medication.
“We don't want to see the disparity where some schools carry it and some schools don't,” Smith said at a news conference.
Smith said his bill is “common sense for the protection of kids” and in good position to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate. He has 13 co-sponsors: 10 Democrats and three Republicans.
Tracy Fausnight, an associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at Penn State Hershey, said the number of food allergies is increasing. A 2011 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that 8 percent of children younger than 18 have food allergies.
“We don't want to have a child die in school because there is no access to epinephrine,” Fausnight said.
Smith also has introduced two bills to allow trained personnel at restaurants and public places such as libraries, municipal buildings and community centers to have and administer epinephrine in emergencies.
Smith previously introduced legislation to allow students to carry their own EpiPens at school. The language of that bill became part of the public school code in 2010.
About 30 states have discussed legislation to require schools to stock epinephrine auto-injectors, Smith said.
Fausnight said 20 percent of anaphylactic reactions occur in students who are not aware they have allergies, making access to epinephrine essential.
Mylan, a pharmaceutical company based in Canonsburg, provides schools across the country with free or reduced-cost EpiPens in states that require schools to stock the medication, spokeswoman Nina Devlin said.
Megan Rogers is an intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association.
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