Where Do You Stand in the Epi Pen Debate?

 

On September 16, 2013, 13-year-old Cameron Espinosa suffered an allergic reaction during a school football game. The eighth grader of Paul R. Haas Middle School, in Corpus Christi, Texas, was huddled with his team on the field when he began shouting, “Ants! Ants! Ants!” He collapsed and was immediately taken to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, before passing away four days later. His allergic reaction to fire ants on the field was a tragic accident, but experts say his death could have been prevented had someone given him an epinephrine auto injector (more popularly known as an “EpiPen”).

Cameron’s death occurred only one week after a bill was brought to the U.S. Senate that would encourage states to require schools to have epinephrine available for emergencies. His story has given a human face to a heated debate over whether schools should be required to have an EpiPen on hand at all times for any student that needs it, even if they don’t have a prescription. However, such a mandate makes some parents and school administrators nervous. Allergists say epinephrine is safe, even if injected into a student who doesn’t need it. However, training is necessary for proper administration. It was found that nearly 75 percent of people who own an EpiPen have no idea how to actually use it. If the law were passed, school coaches, nurses, teachers, kids and parents would need to be trained in order to be prepared if a similar emergency happened. EpiPens are also expensive. A kit of 2 pens usually costs close to 300 dollars. Each can only be used once and usually needs to be replaced (even if unused) after a year.

What do you think? Should schools be required to stock prescribed medications such as EpiPens for all students in case of emergencies? Should student be given potentially life-saving medications, even without a prescription or known allergy? Join the debate in the comments below.

If your teen has an allergy, you should check out http://www.foodallergy.org/