Science

Ga. EpiPen Law Helps Take Sting Out Of Allergic Reactions

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new bill into law this week that allows schools and businesses to keep epinephrine, or EpiPens, on hand in case of allergic reactions.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new bill into law this week that allows schools and businesses to keep epinephrine, or EpiPens, on hand in case of allergic reactions.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

Founder of Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta and restaurant owner Karen Harris and Dr. Luqman Seidu, a pediatric allergist and immunologist with the Omni Allergy, Immunology, and Asthma Clinic discuss Georgia's new EpiPen Law on ''A Closer Look.''

Food allergies present a potentially life-threatening situation for those who suffer from them. Parents of children with food allergies face a particular challenge when their children are at school or out with friends.

The reason these allergies can pose such a big problem is allergic reactions to food, known medically as anaphylaxis, can range from mild to deadly. Food isn’t the only allergy that can bring on an anaphylactic reaction either. Insect stings, asthma, medications, and latex can also cause a dangerous reaction for those who are allergic.

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill this week that will allow establishments like restaurants, schools, theaters and hotels to get prescriptions to stock epinephrine injectors – the trade name is EpiPen – to use in emergencies. 

The new law also authorized people who are trained in its use to administer the injection. 

Karen Harris is a restaurant owner who suffers from food allergies. She’s the founder of Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta.  

Harris says other states mandate that schools stock epinephrine.

“There’s similar legislation that allows schools, both private and public, to stock this medication to keep on school grounds and to administer to individuals who appear to be under anaphylaxis – whether they have a prescription or not,” she said during an interview on “A Closer Look.”

“This new legislation will apply to entities such as theme parks, restaurants, sports arenas, day cares and such,” Harris added.

The law is important because there has been an increase in the number of people suffering from inflammatory and allergic diseases over the past few decades.

“We’re not sure exactly what the etiology or the underlying reason is, but it’s something that we need to deal with,” said Dr. Luqman Seidu, a pediatric allergist and immunologist with the Omni Allergy, Immunology and Asthma Clinic, during the interview on “A Closer Look.”

Harris said she would support an additional measure that would require schools and businesses to keep epinephrine on hand.

“This is a really great step forward. It’s wonderful progress. It’s very important because in most cases of fatal food allergic reactions it’s due to delay of epinephrine or not administering epinephrine at all.”

Harris and Seidu discussed the new Georgia law, dangerous allergies, epinephrine and more on “A Closer Look.”

WABE’s Lauren Waits, Rose Scott, and Denis O’Hayer contributed to this story.