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NC House Bill Requires Schools To Keep Epi-Pens

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File photo of school.(credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of school.(credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A bill that would require North Carolina schools to keep a supply of epinephrine pens to treat potentially life-threatening allergic reactions passed the House Education Committee Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by members of both parties, would require all public, charter and regional schools to keep at least two epinephrine pens on hand to be administered by trained personnel. Currently, epinephrine pens can only be used on students with individual prescriptions.

Epinephrine injectors are widely used to treat severe reactions caused by food allergens. If not promptly treated, those reactions can be fatal. One in four cases occurs in children who weren’t previously diagnosed, according to the Journal of Pediatrics.

Eight states currently have similar laws on the books, and the North Carolina bill would mandate training, said Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland.

That training would be minimal because the device is easily operated, said Rep. Tom Murray, R-Wake.

Murray said manufacturer Mylan Specialty L.P. offers up to four pens free and a discount program for schools wanting additional supplies.

The bill would also hold employees administering epinephrine pens immune from civil damages except in cases of serious misconduct.

Kendra Montgomery-Blinn, a Durham parent who spoke in favor of the bill, said she appreciates that North Carolina is ahead of the curve, but daycare employees should be free of potential liability as well. She said current law discourages employees from taking life-saving measures because they fear the risks.

“Many children are first diagnosed with a life-threatening allergy when they have their very first reaction at daycare,” she said.

Brent Townsend, a pediatric radiologist in Raleigh, supported Blinn’s appeal. He said recent studies show one in 12 people have food allergies, and that number is increasing for reasons that aren’t fully understood.

Bill sponsors said they’re exploring adding daycares and private schools to the clause freeing employees of liability.

The bill, which passed the Education Committee unanimously, goes to the House floor next.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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