The Assembly Business Professions & Consumer Protection Committee took unanimous action today to approve legislation authored by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) that will better protect children and adults who suffer from serious and potentially life-threatening allergies. SB 669 enables California to join a growing group of states that provide training in the proper use of emergency epinephrine auto-injectors – otherwise known as EpiPens – by making these auto-injectors available by prescription to individuals who have successfully completed specified training and certification.
Furthermore, the Huff legislation will allow properly trained volunteers to administer EpiPens on children or adults who suffer a potentially fatal anaphylaxis allergic reaction, without facing civil liability for trying to save a life.
“Current law does not give people the tools to save the life of someone dying from an allergic reaction,” said Senator Huff. “This was once a problem for school nurses, who could do nothing for students suffocating from a severe allergic reaction because the student had not been prescribed medication. Recent legislation has corrected this problem. But further correction is needed. What happens to those kids who aren’t on school grounds?”
EpiPens, though intended for use by lay consumers, require a prescription. Presently, epinephrine auto-injectors can only be used by the person for whom it is prescribed on him or herself. If given by anyone else, outside of a physician’s direction, it is illegal, and subjects even a Good Samaritan rescuer to civil and criminal liability exposure.
According to recent medical studies, anaphylaxis allergic reactions are responsible for 1,500 deaths a year in the United States. It’s estimated that six million children in the United States suffer from allergies. Anaphylaxis is a pervasive lethal threat, both to those with known allergies and those who suddenly become sensitized to a substance – be it a simple bee sting, ingestion of shell fish or coming in contact with peanuts.
“The purpose of SB 669 is to increase the chances that if a person suffers a life-threatening allergic reaction, there will be someone close by with medication to save their life,” said Senator Huff.
SB 669 has earned the support of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the nation’s leading organization advocating for people with food allergies and their families, in addition to the California Medical Association.
Senator Huff serves as the Senate Republican Leader and represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties.
Written by Bill Bird