Senate Health Committee Advances Huff Legislation That Allows Volunteers to Administer Life Saving Medication

Press Release posted 4/20/13 – Sacramento – The Senate Health Committee took action today to approve legislation authored by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) that will better protect children and adults who suffer from serious and potentially life-threatening allergies. SB 669 enables California to join a growing group of states that provide training in the proper use of emergency epinephrine auto-injectors – otherwise known as EpiPens – by making these auto-injectors available by prescription to individuals who have successfully completed specified training and certification.

Furthermore, the Huff legislation will allow properly trained volunteers to administer EpiPens on children or adults who suffer a potentially fatal anaphylaxis allergic reaction, without facing civil liability for trying to save a life.

“Current law does not allow trained volunteers to administer EpiPens even if an auto-injector is at the scene of an emergency and a patient who has lost consciousness needs the medication,” said Senator Huff. “This was once a problem for school nurses, who could do nothing for students suffocating in anaphylactic shock because the student had not been prescribed an EpiPen. Recent legislation corrected this problem and it’s my belief that further correction is needed.”

EpiPens, though intended for use by lay consumers, require a prescription. Presently, epinephrine auto-injectors can only be used by the person for whom it is prescribed on him or herself. If given by anyone else, outside of a physician’s direction, it is illegal, and subjects even a Good Samaritan rescuer to civil and criminal liability exposure.

According to recent medical studies, anaphylaxis allergic reactions are responsible for 1,500 deaths a year in the United States. It’s estimated that six million children in the United States suffer from allergies. Anaphylaxis is a pervasive lethal threat, both to those with known allergies and those who suddenly become sensitized to a substance – be it a simple bee sting, ingestion of shell fish or coming in contact with peanuts.

“The purpose of SB 669 is to increase the chances that if a person suffers a life-threatening allergic reaction, there will be someone close by with an epinephrine auto-injector,” said Senator Huff.

SB 699 now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The measure has earned the support of the Conference of California Bar Associations (sponsor); California Hospital Association; Association of Regional Centers Agencies; Hospital Corporation of America and the California Association of Joint Powers Authorities.