Area schools enroll in EpiPen4Schools program

After mandated law, area schools maintain epinephrine auto-injectors

BIG RAPIDS – After Michigan joined 45 other states that require schools to maintain unprescribed epinephrine auto-injectors, commonly known as EpiPens, more than 3,547 schools in the state have enrolled in the EpiPen4Schools program.

The program offers four free EpiPen auto-injectors to public and private elementary, middle and high schools across the U.S.

EpiPens are used to treat anaphylaxis, a severe whole-body allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis is commonly caused by allergies related to food, bee stings and medicine.

Area schools participating in the program include Big Rapids Public Schools, Crossroads Charter Academy, Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District, Chippewa Hills School District, Morley Stanwood Community Schools, Evart Public Schools, Reed City Area Public Schools and Pine River Area Schools.

“Nearly three years ago, a series of in-school tragedies highlighted the need for immediate access to epinephrine,” said Mylan CEO Heather Bresch in a recent release.

Mylan Specialty, a pharmaceutical business, created a survey during the 2013-14 school year to study epinephrine usage in schools. Of the 6,000 surveyed schools, there were 919 reported cases of anaphylaxis. More than one in five of the reported cases occurred in individuals without a known allergen. About 48.7 percent used an EpiPen received through the EpiPen4Schools program.

“This is the first nationwide, comprehensive survey evaluating anaphylaxis and use of epinephrine auto-injectors in U.S. schools,” said Martha White, survey investigator. “As the program continues, research like this will be important in understanding how schools are responding when anaphylaxis occurs and what resources may be needed to support efforts to manage potentially life-threatening allergies within the school setting.”

Nationwide, about 42,000 schools have participated in the program.

House Bill 4353 was originally introduced by Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, on Feb. 28, 2013, to mandate that public schools must train at least two staffers in the administration of EpiPens. Two EpiPens must be on site at all times. The law does not apply to private schools.

Mary Ann Frederick, school nurse at the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District, helped lead the training of about 70 teachers, principals, secretaries and other school staff positions.

“At first, I was hesitant,” Frederick said. “Now, I think it’s a very good thing, because even if it saves one life, it’s worth it.”

Frederick has never had to treat a student with an EpiPen while working at the MOISD, she said.

A step-by-step demonstration of how to administer an EpiPen can be found at EpiPen4Schools.com.