Health Team

Law would expand EpiPen access in schools

Posted May 2, 2013

North Carolina legislators are considering a bill of interest to parents of children with severe food or bee sting allergies. The act requires public school systems to place emergency epinephrine auto-injectors in each school to make the fast-acting treatment available even to students without a diagnosed allergy.

The bill, which has passed the House and is up for discussion in a state Senate committee, would require that schools stock a minimum of two EpiPens and train personnel to use them.

The North Carolina bill would mimic a Virginia law, which requires that all public schools have some emergency supply of the medication for use on any child.

Patrick Campfield, 12, of Fredericksburg, Va., knows the benefits of having the EpiPen at hand.

"We've known I've been allergic to peanuts since I was 2," he said. 

Even food cross-contaminated by peanuts could trigger a severe reaction.

"His face becomes really puffy, eyes puffed up, everything is puffed up," said his father, Ray Campfield.

Patrick is participating in an immunotherapy study at the University of North Carolina using drops under the tongue, small doses of peanut protein to build up his tolerance.

In the meantime, Patrick keeps an epinephrine auto-injector on him at all times, and he knows how to use it. 

"I'm supposed to put it right here on my thigh," he said.

Bill: Provide emergency epinephrine for schools Bill: Provide emergency epinephrine for schools

Dr. Edwin Kim, a researcher in the UNC study, knows the value of having epinephrine on hand.

"Maybe there is an EpiPen at the school, but it's labeled under a certain child's name and this other one who may be getting sick doesn't have access to it," he said.

Once anaphylactic shock begins, the Campfields know, there's no time to run around a school looking for an EpiPen.

"Seconds count, not minutes," Ray Campfield said.

The future looks positive for kids with severe food allergies. The immunotherapy study program seems to have taken the edge off Patrick's risk, and the legislation offers a level of protection for all students.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, 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.


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  • babedan May 9, 2013

    miseem - they are not replacing the pens for those that need them around all the time, they will have the pen on hand for everyone in case it is needed. In otherwords, one of those pens could save your childs life, if you don't know he is allergic to say a yellowjacket sting. The replacement cost is money I think is well used, instead of bussing a kid half-way across the county, for some stupid diversity number, a number the county tries to use to drum up more money for their pockets.

  • jennifer23 May 8, 2013

    long overdue...thank you, Tom Murry

  • F0urAutumn May 8, 2013

    ", but why should my hard earned money go to supplying replacements for other people's kids? I mean, don't we have enough free loaders around now?"

    Uh, you do realize this is a life saving move, don't you?

    Way to show your "compassion".

  • miseem May 7, 2013

    The free part's OK, but why should my hard earned money go to supplying replacements for other people's kids? I mean, don't we have enough free loaders around now?

  • mm23 May 3, 2013

    About time, because sometime you do not know a child has a severe allergy until that first time, which could be at school. As for those like my son we know have that severe sensitivity, the student should carry it with him. In our case, having to wait to get the school nurse or administrator to get the epi pen would not be quick enough.

  • happymom May 3, 2013

    Excellent start.

  • BeKind May 3, 2013

    A good idea as time is important. Epipen can be life saving. Benadryl works slower and especially if in tablet form. I have broken the capsules open, and swallowed as this works fast. Epipen is the best remedy.

  • lmcurls May 3, 2013

    My daughter is involved in this desensitization trial and it is a godsend! Fortunately for me, my copay for epipens is affordable. For all those who say they cannot afford them, you should know that epipen is celebrating its 25 year anniversary this year and offers a $100 rebate that does not expire until the end of this year and can be used 3 times. You can visit their website to print out the rebate form.

    While we wait for this law to be passed, no child with severe allergies should be without an epipen, if it can be helped. Benadryl will not allows work as you cannot count on every reaction to be the same. Hopefully this information will help you!

    Best of luck to everyone dealing with these life-threatening situations on a daily basis.

  • sunshine1040 May 3, 2013

    Depending on severity of allergy yes child or adult with known allergy should keep them close by and every classroom should have one and a teacher that know when and how to use them. A wasp bee or fire ant sting does not take long to kill or seriously harm some people

  • anneonymousone May 3, 2013

    This is a great idea. I have students with severe bee-sting allergies whose families can not afford the EpiPen.

    We need not wait until a student or staff member has been diagnosed with such an allergy before saving lives.