State lawmakers will consider a bill Tuesday that would require public schools to stock epinephrine pens to treat allergic reactions. Under the terms of the bill, school nurses and other trained employees could immediately administer the medication.
Injected epinephrine is widely used to halt and treat anaphylaxis – a severe, potentially fatal, systemic allergic reaction that can be caused by exposure to peanuts or other food allergens – and children with a known allergy are allowed to carry their own pens.
"But 25 percent of allergic reactions occurring at school happen to students who have not been previously diagnosed. These children currently have no access to epinephrine," said Dr. John W. Rusher, president of the North Carolina Pediatric Society.
According to a 2011 study by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, food allergies affect as many as one in 12 children.
The House Education Committee was expected to discuss the bill Tuesday. If they approve, it moves on to the Appropriations Committee to be included in the state budget. Legislators have yet to estimate the expected cost of implementing the plan across all the state's public schools.