Raleigh, N.C. — The House voted 115-0 Thursday in favor of a proposal that would require schools to have two epinephrine auto-injectors, or EpiPens, on hand to treat cases of severe allergy or anaphylactic shock.
Current law requires a patient-specific prescription for the pens. That means students have to bring their own pens to school with them, and the school can't have spares on hand to treat students who don't have a prescription for them.
House Bill 824 would allow schools to use the injectors to help anybody having an allergic reaction on school property or at a school-sponsored event. School buses would be excluded.
"It’s estimated that one out of every 12 kids has a food allergy," said sponsor Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake. "A lot of times, you don’t know you’re allergic to something till your first event, and that happens a fair amount at schools."
"I think it’ll help save some lives," he said.
Schools will be required to develop a training program and policies to make sure educators and staff know how to use the injectors. School personnel will have legal immunity "provided the policy is followed in good faith," said Murry.
"It’s pretty simple – it’s not rocket surgery here. You basically take it out and jam it into the leg," he said. "But we want to make sure they know what they’re doing and how to properly assess whether it’s an allergic reaction."
Co-sponsor Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said a number of other states have similar legislation, including Virginia, Illinois and Georgia.
Murry said the manufacturer of the EpiPen, Mylan Inc., is willing to give each school up to four free injectors if they apply for the company's program. Replacement of expired injectors will likely cost about $150 per pair.
The measure now goes to the Senate.