The State Senate today gave final unanimous legislative approval to legislation that will better protect children and adults who suffer from serious and potentially life-threatening allergies. SB 669 will allow California to join a growing group of states that provide training in the proper use of emergency epinephrine auto-injectors - otherwise known as EpiPens - by making these auto-injectors available by prescription to individuals who have successfully completed specified training and certification. The measure will now be forwarded to the Governor for his signature.
Authored by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), SB 669 will allow properly trained volunteers to administer EpiPens on children or adults who suffer a potentially fatal anaphylaxis allergic reaction, without facing civil liability for trying to save a life.
"Current law does not give people the tools to save the life of someone dying from an allergic reaction," said Senator Huff. "We have protections set up in our schools but the threat of allergies doesn't go away when a child leaves the classroom. Kids need to be protected when at camp or other organized events too."
Food allergies affecting children is on the rise. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of U.S. children who have food allergies rose by 50 percent from 1997 to 2011. It's estimated that anaphylaxis allergic reactions, suffered by children and adults, are responsible for 1,500 deaths a year in the United States.
EpiPens, though intended for use by lay consumers, require a prescription. Presently, EpiPens can only be used by the person for whom it is prescribed on him or herself. If given by anyone else, outside of a physician's direction, it is illegal, and subjects even a Good Samaritan rescuer to civil and criminal liability exposure.
Seven states have passed legislation to allow properly trained volunteers to administer EpiPens in an emergency situation. Furthermore, the legislation grants these volunteers with Good Samaritan protection against civil and criminal liability. Three other states, Connecticut, New York and Oregon provide Good Samaritan immunity for persons who have received authorized training.
"The purpose of SB 669 is to increase the chances that if a person suffers a life-threatening allergic reaction, there will be someone close by with medication to save their life," said Senator Huff.
SB 669 has earned the support of the Conference of California Bar Associations (sponsor); Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the nation's leading organization advocating for people with food allergies and their families; California Medical Association; California Hospital Association; Association of Regional Centers Agencies and other organizations.