“One thing is clear,” said Nancy Sander, president and founder of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), “breathing is bipartisan. Families and schoolchildren with asthma and anaphylaxis are fortunate that state legislators are changing laws and instituting new policies to eliminate needless death and suffering.”
In the month of May, Rhode Island passed legislation allowing schoolchildren to carry and self-administer their prescribed life-saving anaphylaxis medication at school and school-sponsored events – the 49th state to pass such a law. The state also added provisions in the legislation that protects students on school buses by allowing trained bus drivers to administer epinephrine in emergencies.
Earlier in the month, Virginia, Maryland and Louisiana joined the growing number of states that require schools to adopt policies for dealing with anaphylaxis emergencies, often including stocking emergency supplies of auto-injectable epinephrine, the medication recommended to stop anaphylaxis.
“It’s great to see the momentum,” said Prem Menon, MD, board-certified allergist with the Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Center in Baton Rouge, LA, and head of the Louisiana State division of AANMA’s Anaphylaxis Community Experts volunteer program. “These laws are the work of many volunteers and dedicated legislators. Food allergy and bee sting anaphylaxis will happen each school year. The only way to save lives is to be prepared.
Food allergy and bee sting anaphylaxis often occurs unexpectedly – before children have been diagnosed with allergy or before people realize that it can be life-threatening. The most effective treatment for anaphylaxis is administering auto-injectable epinephrine at the first sign of symptoms. That’s why it is important for people with life-threatening allergies to carry epinephrine with them at all times and why it will be helpful for schools to have an emergency supply on hand.
In 2004, AANMA spearheaded passage of the Asthmatic Schoolchildren’s Treatment and Health Management Act (ASTHMA Act) in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, a law that encouraged states to allow schoolchildren with asthma and anaphylaxis to carry and use prescribed medications. Since then, all 50 states have passed laws allowing students to carry and use prescribed asthma medications and 49 have passed similar laws
regarding anaphylaxis. Only New York remains and there is legislation pending. For more information on these laws and how to move legislation forward in New York, visit AANMA’s Advocacy page.