State, federal lawmakers want EpiPen available to all students

Doctors are calling allergies and asthma an epidemic with more cases reported than ever before.

Federal lawmakers want to make it safer for children going to school with severe allergies by making a drug readily available.

Allergies have been referred to as a hidden disability but now schools could have a greater incentive to stock classrooms with the drug that could save a child's life.

"It's not to treat it is to save a life," said Shawky Hassan, M.D., Ph.D., Allergy and Asthma Center.

A life-saving dosage when experiencing these symptoms.

"Breathing, choking, big hives passing out and they don't know why," said Fikria Hassan, M.D., Ph.D.

When readily available, the EpiPen can mean the difference between life and death.

"Time is of the essence in that because just a prick will save a life," said Dr. Hassan.

It's why federal lawmakers are presenting the school access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.

It would provide an emergency stash of the antidote in school classrooms.

States adopting the policy would get additional federal funding.

"This is another case when EpiPens in schools will be important," said Dr. Hassan.

Currently, students in the Flint Community School District provide their own EpiPens that are given to a trained school official.

Not all schools have a nurse on-staff so a principal or school aid is selected.

School health officers and doctors agree that training teachers to use the EpiPen in an emergency is a good thing especially with rising cases.

"We see a lot more anaphylaxis which is allergic shock for the last four to five years. It's almost like an epidemic," said Dr. Hassan.

The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act was introduced last week before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The Michigan House also has a bill pending that would allow emergency doses of epinephrine to all students.