On Tuesday, Maryland became the third state to require schools to stock epinephrine for emergency use in children with severe allergic reactions.
Maryland Gov. Martin O' Malley signed the bill into law, requiring each county board of education to establish a policy to authorize certain school personnel to administer auto–injectable epinephrine in allergy emergencies. Only Nebraska and Virginia have similar regulations.
An epinephrine injection can mean the difference between life and death for people with severe allergic reactions. A 2003 New York Presbyterian Hospital study estimates that approximately 1,500 people die each year from anaphylaxis and 43 million Americans are at risk of experiencing an episode of anaphylaxis. Epinephrine slows down the effects of an allergic reaction, buying time for responders to arrive or to get a patient to a hospital.
In Virginia, the law is known as Amarria’s Law, named after 7-year-old Amarria Johnson who died at her school in January after an anaphylactic reaction from eating a peanut. Supporters of the law say it could have saved her life.
“This law will help address preventable deaths caused by food allergies because it ensures that all students [in Maryland] will have access to epinephrine in case of an emergency,” said the Maryland-Greater DC chapter of the Asthma Allergy Foundation of America in written statement.
Maryland’s new law authorizes school personnel to administer epinephrine to a student who is “perceived to be in anaphylaxis” regardless of whether the student has a prescription. School boards will be required to develop emergency training to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and training on administering epinephrine. Schools will be required to report to the State Department of Education each time epinephrine is used.
The law goes into effect July first.