by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Your child has an allergic reaction at school. Auto-injectors, like EpiPens, can save his or her life. N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory is close to signing a bill requiring every public school to have them.
Devin Bush, 12, lives with it every day: the fear peanuts, watermelons and other foods many children eat with no problems, could kill him. "I have to be really, really careful," he said.
One bite, or even lick, could trigger a deadly allergic reaction. And it can happen so quickly, calling 911 may not even matter. "You see that look of panic in his eyes that you haven't seen before," his mother, Tracy, said.
It happened in a Virginia school a few years ago. A 7-year-old came in contact with a certain food. The ambulance arrived in minutes, but still too late. Then Virginia passed a law requiring epinephrine auto-injectors in schools. Tennessee followed.
North Carolina is about to do the same with Senate Bill 744, 7th edition, page 34.
"§ 115C-375.2A. School supply of epinephrine auto-injectors.
24 (a) A local board of education shall provide for a supply of emergency epinephrine
25 auto-injectors on school property and at school-sponsored events on school grounds for use by
26 trained school personnel to provide emergency medical aid to persons suffering from an
27 anaphylactic reaction. Each school shall store in a secure but easily accessible location a
28 minimum of two epinephrine auto-injectors. For purposes of this section, "school property"
29 does not include transportation to or from school.
30 (b) For the purposes of this section and G.S. 115C-375.2, "epinephrine auto-injector"
31 means a disposable drug delivery system with a spring-activated, concealed needle that is
32 designed for emergency administration of epinephrine to provide rapid, convenient first aid for
33 persons suffering a potentially fatal reaction to anaphylaxis.
34 (c) The principal shall designate one or more school personnel, as part of the medical
35 care program under G.S. 115C-375.1, to receive initial training and annual retraining from a
36 school nurse or qualified representative of the local health department regarding the storage and
37 emergency use of an epinephrine auto-injector. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to
38 the contrary, the school nurse or other designated school personnel who has received training
39 under this subsection shall obtain a prescription for epinephrine auto-injectors from a
40 physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner of the local health department serving the
41 area in which the local school administrative unit is located.
42 (d) The principal shall collaborate with appropriate school personnel to develop an
43 emergency action plan for the use of epinephrine auto-injectors in an emergency. The plan shall
44 include at least the following components:
45 (1) Standards and procedures for the storage and emergency use of epinephrine
46 auto-injectors by trained school personnel.
47 (2) Techniques for recognizing symptoms of anaphylaxis.
48 (3) Emergency follow-up procedures, including calling emergency services and
49 contacting a student's parent and physician.
50 (4) Instruction and certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. General Assembly Of North Carolina Session 2013
Senate Bill 744-Seventh Edition Page 35
1 (e) A supply of emergency epinephrine auto-injectors provided in accordance with this
2 section shall not be used as the sole medication supply for students known to have a medical
3 condition requiring the availability or use of an epinephrine auto-injector. Those students may
4 be authorized to possess and self-administer their asthma medication on school property under
5 G.S. 115C-375.2.
6 (f) A local board of education, its members, employees, designees, agents, or
7 volunteers, and a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner of the local health
8 department shall not be liable in civil damages to any party for any act authorized by this
9 section or for any omission relating to that act unless that act or omission amounts to gross
10 negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing."
Sen. Jeff Tarte, R- Mecklenburg County, co-sponsored the bill. His wife is a doctor and his daughter-in-law has food allergies.
"It happens that quickly. You know, if you've taken a couple quick bites like kids do, snarfing food down in a hurry, you're in trouble," he said.
And it looks like it won't cost taxpayers. The company which makes EpiPens, Mylan, has agreed to provide them free for this upcoming school year and at least half of next. It's part of the company's EpiPen4Schools® program. Mylan says it "reflects Mylan's mission to set new standards in health care by breaking down barriers to ensure people have access to high quality medicine. Therefore, the company has made an investment to help schools become more aware of the risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and be better prepared to respond during an emergency. It is the only program of its kind...We hope that the availability of this program helps address one of the challenges schools face by reducing the cost burden associated with making epinephrine available in schools. As stock epinephrine policies continue to evolve across the country, we look forward to continued participation in the EpiPen4Schools program, because even one anaphylactic episode without access to epinephrine is one too many."
"Why chance it? Why not have these items available to save whoever needs it?" Tracy Bush said.
Charlotte area food allergy awareness advocates are hosting an EpiPen education meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Charlotte Medical Clinic office at 10650 Park Road, Suite 300 Charlotte, NC 28210.
Dr. Ekta Shah, with Charlotte Medical Clinic, will host. John Howard, PharmD Medical Science Liaison, will be there to answer EpiPen questions.