August 15, 2012

Calling all school nurses! Get your free Epi-Pens!

Mylan Specialty announced a program that will enable schools to better handle anaphylaxis.  The company, which produces and distributes Epi-Pens, is offering qualified schools two twin packs of EpiPens at no cost through EpiPen4Schools.

This is great news for states that have laws authorizing or requiring Epipens to be stocked in schools.  If your child needs an Epi-Pen you already know how expensive it is to stock and restock them (because they expire) year after year.  With educational fundings in every state suffering huge cuts in this sluggish economy, schools that can legally carry prescription Epipens for their entire student body often do not keep them in stock because of the financial burden.  The strains of budget cuts force many schools to choose between Epipens and classroom materials. 

So far there are only a couple of states that require their schools to carry Epipens: Illinois, Georgia, and Virginia.  The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act  has been put forward by Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk to encourage states to allow schools to keep Epipens in stock by offering incentives.  While the potential of this program is great, states and even individual school districts and sites will vary on whether or not they can carry Epipens without a prescription directly attached to a particular student. 

To apply for the Epipens district or school nurses must download, complete, and fax in the forms, which can be found at the EpiPen4Schools website.  A valid Epi-Pen prescription must accompany the forms.  Mylan's EpiPen4Schools program does not provide Epipens for individuals so it is invalid to send a prescription made out to an individual student.  The prescription must come as a standing order from a physician for use by medical and school personnel for any individual in the school setting that is experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction.

I encourage you to read about EpiPen4Schools and share this information with your school nurses and district personnel.  See if something can be done about stocking your local schools with EpiPens.  My son's school nurse told me that EpiPens must connected to an individual's prescription.  But I'm searching California law to see if there is in fact language that allows school districts to use their discretion on making this call.

Beyond your school sites, join FAAN's efforts in support of the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act by writing to your state's senators and representatives.  Share your personal stories and how stocking EpiPen auto-injectors could mean the difference between life and death for your loved ones.


  1. I believe California education section code 49414 allows California schools to carry emergency epipens. But it looks like its up to the school whether they want to or not. The law does not provide funding, though, which is where this program comes into play. I urge everyone to go to their schools and see of this is something they're interested in. I believe its something like a quarter of allergic reactions occurring in schools happen to kids with an unknown allergy.

  2. Thanks, Sarah, for confirming this! I emailed our district nurse this morning with the link to the specific language in the California Education Code section 49414(c):

    While I'm guessing that our blog audience keeps twin packs of EpiPens at school and at home, Sarah is absolutely right. Many kids are at risk of anaphylaxis due to unknown, underdiagnosed, or exercise-induced allergies. In my son's school where more than half qualify for free or reduced school lunch, I am also concerned that families might not be able to afford to provide their child's own life-saving medications at school.