Senate, Assembly pass bill allowing more public places to stock life-saving medication

EpiPen new version


The Senate and Assembly have passed a bill that seeks to save lives in emergency situations by making life-saving devices available in more public places.

This bill would authorize, but not mandate, public venues such as restaurants, youth organizations, sports leagues, theme parks, sports arenas, day care and educational facilities to stock and administer epinephrine auto-injectors in an emergency to individuals who appear to be experiencing anaphylactic symptoms.

Concerns over anaphylaxis are growing in the United States, which is a severe life-threatening allergic reaction to foods, insect stings and bites, and medications. The bill expands the types of public venues that can store epinephrine auto-injectors for emergency use.

“This common sense measure will help prevent avoidable tragedies by helping ensure the timely access to for those who need it,” said Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, D-Greenburgh, the Assembly bill’s lead sponsor.

The Senate bill (S.6800) is being sponsored by Kemp Hannon, R-Garden City, chair of the Health Committee.

According to an Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America study printed in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2014, severe allergic reactions occur in approximately one in 50 Americans. These allergic reactions — which can include rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness and low blood pressure — are often caused by certain foods and insect bites. Epinephrine treats those who go into anaphylactic shock immediately and must be used at the first sign of an attack.

This bill not only aims to help those who are prone to these type of allergies but provides a safety net for people who are unaware that they have them. Abinanti said, “More and more people need special medications and devices which are of no use if they’re not readily available at all times.”

The legislation calls for public venues to keep these auto-injectors in stock under controlled conditions and requires them to be administered by a person who has taken a course and can recognize signs of allergic reactions, recommend the correct dosage and be able to properly use this device.

No entity would be required to stock epinephrine, but simply, make it an option.

This new bill is an expansion of a 2014 law that authorized schools to stock and administer epinephrine in an emergency situation without a prescription. Currently, the legislation is awaiting final action by Governor Cuomo. If this is signed, it would take effect 180 days after it becomes a law.

Abinanti believes nothing but positive will come out of the passing of this bill. “These auto-injectors will save lives, just as the AED devices that are placed in public facilities to treat heart attacks have saved lives,” said the assemblyman.