In all states but Hawaii, schools are allowed to stock undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors to treat any individual demonstrating symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.
Having undesignated (not prescribed) auto-injectors in schools has already saved lives, including that of a 14 year old in Sparks, Nevada. In Illinois, stock epinephrine was used 65 times during the 2014-2015 school term, and their use has tripled in New York City schools over five years.
Unfortunately, undesignated school epinephrine is getting caught in the uproar over Mylan’s 500 percent EpiPen price hike. Although state legislation allowing stock epinephrine indicates any brand of auto-injector can be used, the EpiPen is what our schools have since Mylan provides them at no cost, and the brand is trusted.
According to Mylan, schools can receive up to four auto-injector two-packs each year without charge, and those used are replaced for free. Institutions wanting extra devices are given a discounted rate. Mylan has already distributed about 700,000 gratis auto-injectors to more than 65,000 U.S. schools.
Despite Mylan’s free issuing of school auto-injectors, advocates of stock epinephrine worry that legislators and others will let the pharmaceutical price controversy sully the issue of student safety. They do not want another child to die for lack of epinephrine, as did young Amarria Johnson.
Seven-year old Amarria had a severe reaction to peanuts while attending class in Virginia. The school did not have a prescribed ephinephrine auto-injector for her, and she died from anaphylaxis. Had stock epinephrine been available, Amarria could have been saved.
To prevent more beautiful young lives from being lost to food allergy reactions, auto-injector advocates hope schools considering the acquisition of stock epinephrine will not lose interest because of the negative EpiPen publicity, and that legislators will continue to uphold the safety net that undesignated devices provide our kids.