TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would protect college students from anaphylaxis by allowing colleges and universities to administer life-saving medication was approved today by the Senate Higher Education Committee.
“If not treated immediately, anaphylactic shock can quickly lead to death,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer and Hunterdon. “Thankfully, treatment for these severe allergic reactions is accessible, portable and easily administered. By making Epi-pens available to trained faculty and staff at our state’s colleges and universities, we could save a life.”
The bill, S-2448, would allow New Jersey’s colleges and universities to develop policies for emergency administration of epinephrine via pre-filled auto-injectors. The bill would allow an institution of higher education to designate a medical professional to train individuals who are responsible for members of the campus community in the administration of epinephrine. The bill would also authorize a medical professional to distribute a supply of epinephrine to those individuals – such as student, faculty or staff member – when they are responsible for members of the campus community.
The bill mirrors similar legislation passed in 2007 that allows boards of education to develop epinephrine-administration policies for K-12 school districts.
Anaphylaxis is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction to a chemical that has become an allergen. Common causes of anaphylaxis include drug allergies, food allergies, and insect bites or stings. Epinephrine injections are used for emergency treatment of severe allergic reactions to insect bites or stings, medicines, foods, or other substances and are only available through a physician’s prescription. This legislation would allow a licensed campus medical professional – such as a physician or registered nurse – to obtain a supply of pre-filled epinephrine auto-injectors under a standing protocol from a licensed physician and to control the distribution of the injectors to trained designees.
Senator Turner drafted the bill at the request of Princeton University. Princeton holds an annual Outdoor Action program, which sends roughly 800 incoming freshmen students on a six-day outdoor trip the week before freshman orientation. Students from all over the United States and across the world participate and may come into contact with new foods or insects for the first time. This legislation would allow university staff to administer epinephrine if a student has an allergic reaction.
The bill was approved by the Higher Education Committee with a vote of 4-0. It now heads to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further review.