OKLAHOMA CITY – Tuesday, the Senate Health and Human Services committee defeated by a vote of 3-5 a proposal by Sen. Connie Johnson that would have allowed restaurants and other authorized entities to stock epinephrine auto-injectors (Epi-Pens) for use in emergency situations. Senate Bill 1537 would have also allowed authorized, trained and designated personnel to administer epinephrine auto-injectors, and would have provided Good Samaritan protection for those personnel when acting to administer epinephrine in emergency situations.
Johnson said, “While Oklahoma is one of 30 states that allow schools to stock and administer life-saving epinephrine auto-injectors, we do not currently allow restaurants, summer camps, scout troops and similar entities to stock the life-saving medication with the same protections.”
Legislators in 34 other states have also introduced similar legislation this year.
According to Noah Reandeau, Vice President for Strategy Consulting with Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs, allowing restaurants and other businesses to provide Epi-Pens could potentially save lives.
“Millions of children in the U.S. have potentially life-threatening allergies, so the question of whether these entities have epinephrine auto-injectors on hand to treat anaphylaxis can truly be one of life and death,” said Reandeau.
Anaphylaxis causes approximately 1,500 deaths annually, and children and adolescents are among those who are most at risk. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, roughly eight percent of children under age 18, or about six million children, have at least one food allergy.
“Meal times are the most dangerous situations for those with food allergies. It’s challenging for restaurants to stock and administer epinephrine auto-injectors due to a lack of formal training for staff and the legal liability risk,” stated Johnson. “Why the committee, charged with the oversight and responsibility for the health and welfare of our most vulnerable citizens, was unwilling to even consider this policy that would have ensured the safety of Oklahoma’s children is still incomprehensible to me.”
Voting against the bill were committee chair Sen. Brian Crain and members Sen. Kim David, Sen. A. J. Griffin, Sen. Dan Newberry and Sen. Rob Standridge. Senators Harry Coates, Jabar Shumate and Connie Johnson voted for the measure.