For many parents with allergic kids, allergies aren't just annoying; they’re terrifying. Allergens including everyday foods like peanuts are everywhere, and a small mistake could lead to hospitalization or even death. That’s why a new bill requiring schools to stock epinephrine is uniting what’s been a particularly divided Congress.
Epinephrine is an anaphylaxis drug which, during an allergic reaction, can save lives. Currently, Mylan Inc. has an 88% market share of anaphylaxis drug sells in the US. Not surprisingly, they’ve been lobbying for this bill for years. They estimate the new bill will expand their customer base by more than ten times—from 2.6 million to 28 million.
But whatever the financial reasons for the bill may be, it should save lives. Four states (Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia) already require schools to stock epinephrine. Virginia only started doing so a year ago, after a seven year old died from eating a peanut in school. The bill should also help asthmatic children. Schools who maintain their supply of epinephrine and teach their employees to administer it will be given priority for asthma-related federal grants.
The new bill is backed by Republican and obstetrician Phil Roe and Democrat Steny Hoyer, whose granddaughter has severe allergies. Congress has been so divided, this bill is one of only 47 signed into law this year. That may sound like a lot, but it really isn't. For comparison, by this point in the first year of president George W. Bush’s second term, 284 bills had been signed into law.