Bill to Widen Access to Life-Saving Allergy Medicine Becomes Law

Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Troy Singleton and Benjie Wimberly to allow individuals who have received adequate training to carry and administer life-saving medicine was signed into law on Monday.

The law (A-4094), named the “Epinephrine Access and Emergency Act,” will allow an individual who has completed an educational program approved by the Commissioner of Health to carry, administer and dispose of epinephrine auto-injector devices. This authorization does not apply to health care professionals and emergency medical technicians who are otherwise authorized to administer medicine in the scope of their practice.

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that can be caused by insect and food allergies.  It is easily treatable with epinephrine, a medication only available via prescription.  The State of New Jersey has already recognized the value of training non-medical professionals to administer this life-saving drug in educational settings and institutions of higher education.

 “Serious allergic reactions can be life-threatening without prompt treatment,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “An EpiPen can relieve symptoms and buy you time until help arrives. Allowing properly trained individuals to carry and administer epinephrine can make the difference between life and death.”

“An allergic reaction can happen anywhere. Unless you have an EpiPen handy, you can be in real trouble,” said Singleton (D-Burlington).  “Considering the serious health risk, it is wise that we allow people who been trained on how to use epinephrine to carry it and administer without fear of legal repercussions.”

“Individuals who are known to be at risk of anaphylaxis may carry emergency doses of epinephrine with them,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). “However, some individuals may not be aware of their allergy and do not carry epinephrine.  This is critical legislation that will provide trained individuals with the tools necessary to respond to emergency anaphylaxis situations and save lives.”

The educational program will include training in the administration of epinephrine auto-injector devices, recognition of the symptoms of anaphylaxis, safe maintenance and storage of the devices, and any other information deemed necessary by the commissioner.

Under law, health care professionals would be authorized to prescribe and dispense an epinephrine auto-injector device, either directly or through a standing order, to a person authorized to administer, maintain, and dispose of the device under the bill or to an entity employing the person if administration of an epinephrine auto-injector device is within the scope of that person’s employment.

The law stipulates that health care professionals are immune from civil and professional liability for prescribing or dispensing an epinephrine auto-injector device in accordance with the law.  Additionally, a person authorized to administer an epinephrine auto-injector device will be immune from civil liability for administering the device in good faith and without fee to a person who appears to be suffering from anaphylaxis or any other serious condition treatable with epinephrine.

The law was amended to stipulate that nothing in the bill will be construed to: (1) permit a person who has completed a training program to perform the duties or fill the position of a licensed medical professional; (2) prohibit the administration of an epinephrine auto-injector device by a person acting pursuant to a lawful prescription; (3) prevent a licensed and qualified member of a health care profession from administering an epinephrine auto-injector device if consistent with the duties and accepted standards of practice applicable to the member’s profession; or (4) violate the “Athletic Licensure Act” in the event that a licensed athletic trainer administers epinephrine as authorized pursuant to the law.

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