It's the color of teal and the condition is real. Teal is the color we highlight every May during Food Allergy Awareness Month. While this condition sometimes seems to garner modest attention, it is vitally important to everyone. More than 30 million people are estimated to have food allergies, and many of those can be life threatening. The number of people who have this condition should suggest that you know someone who does, even if you have no food allergies.
If people eat food to which they are allergic, they can suffer uncomfortable reactions. In some cases, the reaction can be severe and even life-threatening, called anaphylaxis, which requires emergency treatments .
The FDA has identified eight major food allergies. They are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans .
An excellent starting point to better understand this condition is Food Allergy Research Education (FARE). The organization is the "largest private funder of food allergy research, promoting the development of new therapies and offering hope for effective treatments. Our FARE Clinical Network is establishing crucial infrastructure to enable breakthrough innovations and collaboration among researchers." In short, if you or someone close to you has or might have a food allergy, FARE should serve as your starting point on how to deal with the condition.
According to FARE:
- 37 million Americans are living with potentially life-threatening food allergies;
- 377% increase in treatment of diagnosed anaphylactic reactions to food between 2007 and 2016;
- Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.
It is important to remember that the impact of a food allergy travels beyond the person afflicted. It also affects the family and lifestyle when someone might be susceptible. That means not only the person diagnosed, but also the family, must adapt.
Irish Hartness, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Hickory-Piedmont, N.C., offers three valuable tips to help parents and with food allergies.
- Respect "No snack zones." If your child visits a small area that might serve snacks for kids, beware. For example, at those play areas at fast-food franchises, enforce a "no snack" policy. You must become the guardian of your children, protecting them from ingesting food at these locations.
- Speak out about the need for a nut-free environment. Become the point person where kids gather and have the opportunity for snacks or meals. Let everyone know that some kids might have food allergies, which can affect them. You should raise the issue before any of these gatherings.
- Buy allergy-free treats. When you have a special occasion, buy allergy-free treats for pinatas, candy bowls, and treat bags. That way, you can ensure that everyone is safe.
One of the solutions for a person who has a severe reaction to a food allergy is an injection of medication, often epinephrine. This is why I have co-prime sponsored Senate Bill No. 1614, which would place a flat cap on the out-of-pocket contribution for any covered person prescribed insulin, an epinephrine auto-injector or a prescription asthma inhaler.
This bill places a flat cap on the out-of-pocket contribution for any covered person prescribed insulin, an epinephrine auto-injector device, or a prescription asthma inhaler across insurance providers. Coverage for these items may not be subject to any deductible, and copayments or coinsurance are capped at $35 per 30-day supply of insulin, $25 for epinephrine auto-injector devices per 30-day supply, and $50 for prescription asthma inhalers per 30-day supply.
For example, an epinephrine injection can save a life by reversing the symptoms when someone has a severe reaction to a food allergy, such as anaphylaxis. This life-saving tool should not be available solely based on the financial situation of the patient.
My bill will remove a portion of the financial burden for a device that can save their life. And that's why we should support this bill.
This is not the first time I have addressed this issue. I was a sponsor of the Epinephrine Access and Emergency Law, which allows individuals who receive appropriate training to possess and administer potentially life-saving medicine. In case of an emergency, this law offers hope and an immediate remedy to a person who might suffer an anaphylaxis attack.
That's my take, what's yours?