HARRISBURG – With the threat of severe allergies and anaphylactic shock growing across the Commonwealth, Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Fayette/Westmoreland) has introduced legislation to permit state or local police departments to carry, administer or assist in the administration of life-saving epinephrine auto-injectors (more commonly known as an EpiPen).
“Earlier this year, my 4-year-old son had a severe allergic reaction when he simply touched a cashew. My wife and I had no idea he had this severe food allergy,” Warner said. “We called 9-1-1 and while police responded quickly, there was nothing the officer could do while we waited 25 agonizing minutes for an ambulance to respond.
“The wait felt like forever, and we didn’t know if our son was going to live or die,” he added.
It struck Warner that if police can carry NARCAN to help save the life of a person who is overdosing on opioids, why aren’t they permitted to carry medication necessary to save the life of a child or adult suffering a severe allergic reaction?
“While I recognize our police officers have a lot on their hands already, the timely administration of epinephrine can mean the difference between life and death,” Warner said. “Police departments and officers who would like to be equipped with this life-saving medication should be able to do so, but current state law says they can’t. My legislation would change that.”
Under House Bill 2674
, state or local police departments would be permitted to acquire and stock a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors. Officers who wish to carry the EpiPens would be required to undergo training in how to recognize signs and symptoms of severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis; standards and procedures for the storage and administration of an epinephrine auto-injector; and emergency follow-up procedures.
Warner was pleased to have the support and co-sponsorship of the bill from the entire Fayette County delegation, including Reps. Bud Cook (R-Washington/Fayette), Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette/Washington) and Matthew Dowling (R-Fayette/Somerset).
“This is a commonsense measure that I’m proud to support, and I hope to see it get to the governor’s desk as soon as possible,” Dowling said. “As a father of young children myself, I can only imagine how frightening it must have been for the entire Warner family. If we can stop other families from having to go through similar experiences – or worse – we absolutely need to do it.”
Warner noted that with the 2017-18 session soon drawing to a close, he is looking for other avenues to get his initiative to the governor’s desk beyond the bill he just introduced.
“The legislative process can be time-consuming, but when you have an opportunity to help save lives, you want to make sure it’s done as quickly as possible,” Warner said. “That’s why I’ve also had my measure amended into another bill that could reach the governor’s within the next couple weeks.”
Warner said that bill, House Bill 126
, would further expand availability of life-saving EpiPens by permitting entities such as summer camps, colleges and universities, restaurants, amusement parks, sport facilities, daycares and other facilities to have non-patient specific epinephrine auto-injectors in their facilities. He has taken over sponsorship of that bill in place of a now-retired member of the House.
“While my focus and priority has been on allowing law enforcement to carry epinephrine auto-injectors, the potential to have them more widely available would be a great benefit to people with known or unknown allergies,” Warner said. “I will be working hard during the remaining days of the current legislative session to get this initiative signed into law.”
Statistics indicate food allergies are increasing at an alarming rate. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) reports that as many as 15 million individuals have food allergies, and 6 million of those individuals are children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the prevalence of food allergies in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.
Food allergies are a medical condition in which exposure to a food triggers a harmful immune response, ranging from hives to anaphylaxis. Without the administration of epinephrine, anaphylaxis can be fatal.
Representative Ryan Warner
52nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Abby Krueger