Bill encouraging schools to stock EpiPens to stop deadly allergic reactions will become law


(Filed March 19, 2013) Frankfort- A bill encouraging Kentucky schools to stock EpiPens, or epinephrine auto-injectors, to stop anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, has passed will soon be signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear.

When someone has anaphylaxis, the sooner you use an EpiPen, the better the outcome can be, said Thomas Sternberg, an allergist at Graves-Gilbert Clinic in Bowling Green, told Alyssa Harvey of the Daily News.

Under House Bill 172, schools could keep at least two EpiPens in case of emergency, and school boards would develop and approve policies and procedures for managing a student’s life-threatening allergic reaction, reports Harvey.

The bill also helps schools receive or buy the auto-injectors through local health departments and directs the state Department for Public Health to develop clinical protocols for using the auto-injectors in schools. Harvey reports that EpiPens can be donated to schools, and the EpiPens for Schools Program will provide up to four free auto-injectors per school year; if more are needed, they can be purchased at a discounted rate.

"You don’t know when someone could have an anaphylactic reaction,” Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, who sponsored the bill, told the Daily News. She alluded to an incident in Virginia, where a 7-year-old student died last year after an anaphylactic reaction, and no medications were available at the school to treat her. "There could be a hero in the school who was able to reach for that epinephrine pen and save a child’s life and not a tragedy like in Virginia,” Wuchner said. She filed the bill late in the 2012 session, but the language has been revised for this year's session to encourage rather than mandate schools to stock EpiPens.

Amy Wallace, treasurer and former president of the Bowling Green area's Food Education Allergy Support Team, told Harvey she was disappointed schools will not be required to make necessary provisions, but said advocates of the bill are happy to see that the problem is being addressed.

This news release is provided by Kentucky Health News which is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky