Durbin-Kirk Bill to Protect Schoolchildren with Allergies Signed Into Law by President Obama

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) celebrated today as President Barack Obama signed into law their bipartisan legislation to encourage schools across the country to maintain access to critical life-saving medication for children with food and other allergies. The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act will encourage states across the nation to improve school access to epinephrine auto-injectors to be used if students have life threatening systemic allergic reactions. On Sunday, Durbin and Kirk discussed the legislation at an event at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, where they were joined by several families with children with severe allergies. 


“One out of every 25 kids has a food allergy – that’s more than one per classroom in many schools. We’ve all heard sad stories about students trying a new food at lunch and accidentally eating something that’s dangerous. Our hearts ache when we hear stories like these, and in many cases such terrible outcomes could have been prevented,” Durbin said. “I am proud that today the President signed into law our bipartisan legislation to help schools be prepared to help avoid such tragedies. I could not have asked for a better partner in this effort than Senator Kirk. We can do better for the kids across America, and this bill moves us in the right direction.”


“Today is a milestone for people like the Bunnings, a Lake Forest family whom I met with seven years ago, who have two children with severe food allergies,” Kirk said. “With the enactment of the School Access to Epinephrine Bill, we will save lives and ease the minds of families across the country. I thank Senator Durbin for partnering with me to ensure our kids stay safe at school.”


In 2011, the State of Illinois passed a law that allows schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine on site and for school nurses to administer epinephrine to any student suffering from a severe allergic reaction. The Durbin-Kirk legislation signed into law today would expand on the Illinois law by allowing states to designate which school personnel can administer the epinephrine in an emergency. The new legislation will reward states that require schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine.


Although students with severe allergies are currently allowed to self-administer epinephrine if they have a serious allergic reaction, a quarter of anaphylaxis cases at schools involve young people with no previous allergy who are unlikely to carry a personal epinephrine auto-injector. In 2001, a study found that 28 percent of school-aged children who died due to an allergic reaction, died at school where epinephrine was either not administered or was administered too late.


The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act is supported by the Food Allergy Research and Education, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics.