Monday, April 30, 2012

Virginia Enacts Stock Epinephrine Law to Help Protect Students with Allergies

Last week, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill that will require public schools to adopt and implement policies for the possession and administration of epinephrine.

Common food allergies in children
Common food allergies in children (Photo credit: Adams999)
Epinephrine is a life-saving drug used to halt anaphylactic allergic reactions. While students who have suffered anaphylactic reactions often have an epinephrine injector for their personal use at school, not all do. This was the case with Amarria Johnson, who died earlier this year from an allergic reaction after accidentally being exposed to peanut at her school in Virginia. Still other students may experience their first anaphylactic reaction while at school.

There is good cause for action.

At a recent food allergy roundtable in New York City, Mary Jane Marchisotto, Executive Director of the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) shared the most recent statistics on food allergies, saying that, “Every classroom now has two students with food allergies.” A July 2011 study funded by FAI and published in Pediatrics, found that 15 million Americans and one in every thirteen children now suffer from food allergies – a significant increase from prior data.

While the Virginia legislation is critical, Maria Acebal, Chief Executive Officer of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, wants to raise the discussion up a level. She is lobbying on Capitol Hill for federal legislation that would incent the states to enact laws similar to the one just enacted in Virginia. Acebal just isn’t happy with letting the states delay any longer saying, “Do we have to wait for a child to die in every state before the state does it themselves?”

Referred to as a “stock” epinephrine law, Virginia’s new legislation will require schools to keep epinephrine that is not targeted for a specific child available for use in children who do not have their own prescription epinephrine injectors at the school. While food allergy leaders are driving the charge, stock epinephrine laws will help protect students with all types of allergies.

With the signing of this bill, Virginia joins California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and New York, which already have stock epinephrine laws on the books.

Eight down. Forty-two states to go.

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