Lawmaker Says Maryland Schools Should be Able to Afford Epinephrine

By Carlton Purvis

The Maryland lawmaker who introduced a bill that would require school personnel to be trained to respond to anaphylaxis says schools should be able to afford the cost of Epi-Pens, despite concerns by school districts over the costs of the medicine.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill into law in May, requiring each county board of education to establish a policy to authorize school personnel to administer auto–injectable epinephrine in allergy emergencies. It also mandates school districts come up with a training program for responding to anaphylaxis. The law does not require that schools stock epinephrine or provide any kind of funding to obtain the medicine.

It wasn’t a mistake that the legislation didn’t require schools to stock Epi-Pens. A line in the bill requiring the schools to stock epinephrine was taken out because it was assumed that “if you’re going to have the policy that you’re going to have the Epis in stock,” said State Sen. Christopher Shank.

Shank, the primary sponsor of the bill, says schools should have no problem affording them.

“The cost is negligible,” Shank said. A Maryland-based distributor in Maryland provides discounts for schools, he added. “For a school district to say they’re not going to have lifesaving medicine is reprehensible and irresponsible.”

Shank says he introduced the bill after being provided information with the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network on the prevalence of anaphylaxis in children with unknown allergies. Some districts already have Epi-Pens on hand, while others wonder how they will afford it if stocking them becomes mandatory. Some even opposed the bill, Shank said.

“I don’t understand why they would be opposed to this. We’re talking one Epi-Pen per school. It’s not that large a cost compared to other education expenditures,” Shank said.


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