Kids and Food Allergies: New Laws on Stocking All Public Schools with Meds
By Heather Fraser
New laws on stocking all public schools with emergency allergy meds: parents over a barrel
An allergy & autism Mom brought to my attention a FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) e-newsletter item “Efforts to Equip Schools with Epinephrine Intensify”.
The item is short, a mere three paragraphs long but the weary tale of disaster capitalism between the lines calls out. Repeated twice in the piece is the phrase “…many students who may need epinephrine may have no known history of allergy to food…”
Was FARE justifying stocking auto-injectors of epinephrine in all 98,817 US public schools based on the possibility that non-allergic kids might suddenly react?
Well, yes and no, as it turns out. This story of endemic disaster capitalism – fear assuaged by consumption -- is supported by enormous challenges within American health and education systems. Parents with school aged allergic kids seem trapped and scared.
First, for those unfamiliar with the medical device at play here -- what is an auto-injector?
It is a portable, pre-measured, spring-loaded emergency injection of epinephrine used to relax muscles temporarily and slow an allergic reaction. This automatic syringe patented in 1977 was designed originally for use by the US military. It was intended to administer a nerve gas antidote during battle. The first commercial auto-injector EpiPen was introduced in 1980. It continues to be sold with a prescription to those with life threatening anaphylaxis to food or other substances such as latex, bee venom.
And life threatening anaphylaxis is at the heart of FARE’s advocacy. They lobby for changes in laws, labeling, commercial policies and more. For example, FARE supports a Federal Bill legislating “incentives to require elementary schools and secondary schools to maintain, and permit school personnel to administer, epinephrine at schools”
I completely agree that auto-injectors must be available at all schools for those with anaphylaxis and that all staff must be trained in their use and allowed to use them. Sound redundant? No, the recent death of an allergic student is a bizarre and tragic case in point: a child with a known allergy but without an auto-injector had a reaction on school property. Shockingly, the school’s main office had a drawer of auto-injectors but staff were not permitted to use them.
To help prevent future tragedies, FARE continues to push for Bill 1884 and advocate for state level allergy legislation. 12 US states now have laws aimed at stocking their schools with auto-injectors. All US states are expected to follow suit over the next couple of years. All states with an epinephrine-in-the-schools law would be eligible for federal funds on ratification of Bill S. 1884.
FARE also supports Mylan’s Epipen4schools.com new marketing campaign (distributed by Bioridge Pharma). Mylan Inc. (Nasdaq: MYL) markets and sells Epipens (regular and Jr) made by Meridian a subsidiary of Pfizer (NYSE: PFE). These companies have just resolved their spat with Sanofi-Aventis that is poised to launch another auto-injector E-cue that is similar to their Auvi-Q, a voice-guided “talking” epinephrine injector.
But FARE is careful not to specify brand in their literature despite the push to stock schools because their donors include these self-same pharma giants: Sanofi-Aventis US is a Platinum supporter; and Dey Pharma LP a subsidiary of Mylan that sells Epipen is a Presenting Supporter of FARE.
And yet Mylan is first out of the gate on the new push to stock schools. They offer all qualifying schools four free Epipens after which the school can buy more at a discount. It’s basic couponing! See web site for details.
And what cash-strapped school doesn’t want free stuff and discounts? The price of an Epipen in the US has risen from $30. to $150. over the last few years. Every anaphylactic child needs at least two of these emergency devices – their effect lasts 15 minutes and so, actually, a child might even need three or four because emergency medical services in the US do not carry meds (only paramedics). In addition, the devices expire and must be replaced annually.
So, yes, a federal law for financial incentives available to all states with appropriate laws to equip ALL schools would be great, thanks, because here’s the retail breakdown:
$150. per pen that are packaged in pairs and perhaps 20 packages per school x 98,817 (US public schools) = $592 Million gross sales every year.
Naturally, schools would get a bulk deal through a bid process and heated competition between, again, Pfizer and Sanofi.
But returning for a moment to that phrase in the FARE e-newsletter: the stocking of auto-injectors in all schools is for students “who may have no known history of allergy”. To me, it seems unlikely that anyone with “no known history” would suddenly react willy nilly. The justification for a massive purchase of auto-injectors based on WHAT IF we have allergic kids does not make sense. Allowing and training all staff to use an auto-injector (despite obvious challenges such as liability) is crucial but how many injectors does a school need? If we are really scared at willy nilly reactions maybe we should double or triple the orders.
That could reach a billion dollars in auto-injectors every year.
I emailed FARE’s Director of Gifts and Regional Advocacy Jennifer Jobrak for an explanation. While waiting for her reply, I wondered if the reason for the ‘what if’ was simply that families could not or would not afford to see an allergist and thus were not able to be diagnosed and thus not able to buy an injector. And if diagnosed, could they afford the injectors?
I was suddenly rent by guilt for being so cynical and suspicious of big pharma colluding with the not-for-profit to sell millions of dollars in product where it was not needed. Was the system stacked against the allergic poor?
I couldn’t wait for an email. I called Ms. Jobrak right away. She was very articulate and passionate. She is an allergy Mom too. However, Ms. Jobrak did not or could not answer my question. She seemed a little confused and repeated that 20% to 25% of children have their first away from home reactions at school. Yes, I can see that, agreed. But these children have a history of allergy, they have been diagnosed. They know that they could react.
My cynicism crept back.
Was FARE selling its status to help their pharma donors over-stock schools with millions of dollars in auto-injectors where they may not be needed?
While this appears to be the case, there is more to the story. In conversations with US allergy Moms, I learned that conditions in the health and education systems are such that the more auto-injectors available at school the better in their opinion. This might as well be the US allergy Mom’s motto.
Truly, under-privileged families may not be receiving proper diagnosis or they cannot afford $300. or $600. for the injectors. Allergy Moms additionally fear that the ambulance may not make it in time. What if paramedics are unavailable? Again, not all ambulance services carry meds. And so, teachers despite being underpaid and overworked should be trained to use the devices.
And then there is the issue of a #504. Paperwork, meetings, interviews to prove whether your child has a special need and deserves legal protection. This echoes the lack of appreciation for the severity of anaphylaxis and the speed at which it can kill. One hears even from doctors that more kids are killed by lightning than by allergy – but that is largely thanks to hysterical helicopter Moms who sit in the classroom, lobby for hand-washing and food bans… which can be an obstacle in itself.
The writer of a recent article in U-T San Diego seemed so tired of hearing from allergy Moms that he looked forward to the day they were “covered by 6 feet of dirt”.
Meanwhile, legislation is being passed to help overstock schools with allergy meds. This in turn will improve shares in FARE’s donors and keep FARE in business. This relationship is not fully transparent but everyone knows. It’s an old story made more poignant by what it says about us: life-long medical consumers tied so tightly to pharma that we will pay anything to get the meds, pass laws, pimp and beg because we are so afraid our children will die of known or unknown reactions at school.
I know it. My son was diagnosed at age 1 in 1995. Parents feel that they are over a barrel … but while I can see part of the way out, I hesitate to offer more here. Perhaps in a future post…
In the meantime, as cynicism collides with compassion I give the final words to the woman who speaks so emphatically from Sanofi-Intelliject’s Auvi-Q talking auto-injector: “… this device should be taken to your physician for proper disposal and a prescription refill.”
Heather Fraser, MA, BA, BEd, CBP is a Certified BodyTalk Practitioner based in Toronto, ON Canada. She is author of The Peanut Allergy Epidemic, what’s causing it and how to stop it (NY, Skyhorse, 2011). Her most recent publication is "The Autism and Allergy Overlap," Autism File Magazine (Spring, 2013) and reprinted in Neal Yard's Natural News. Listen to: Interview March 13/13 "Why is there a peanut allergy epidemic?"
"Remember that famous 1960's anti-war PSA about thermo nuclear war with the little girl picking petals off a daisy..I wish we could do a PSA with Americas sick kids using a childrens poem.."
I thought your nursery rhyme was a pretty good start.
Posted by: John Stone | March 18, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Our Kids are Sick,
The CDC is still sounding the alarms about polio even though there hasn't been a case of wild polio in the US since 1977 and even though autism cases dwarf polio cases even when polio was at it peak. That's some powerful denial goin' on at the CDC. Either that or they need to shut down the kool-aid stand.
Posted by: Sarah | March 18, 2013 at 04:01 PM
Remember that famous 1960's anti-war PSA about thermo nuclear war with the little girl picking petals off a daisy..I wish we could do a PSA with Americas sick kids using a childrens poem.. Something that captures both innocence and the seriousness of the issue at the same time. Get people on a gut level. Something they would never forget.
Daisy, 1964 Lyndon Johnson ad .
Posted by: Sarah | March 18, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Sarah's poem reminded me of my son's cub scout pack. 9 boys, all born in '98 or '99. 7 out of the 9 had some some combination of issues.....asthma, allergies, learning disabilities, sensory processing dysfunction, auditory processing dysfunction, eczema, add and PDD. These boys are very typical kids in their schools. When I was in school, I'd heard of allergies, period.
Why doesn't mainstream medicine think this is a gigantic problem? And they think concerned parents are the crazy ones.
Posted by: Our kids are sick | March 18, 2013 at 11:58 AM
A children's poem I made up:
Ten little Children
Ten little children standing in a line, one had asthma and then there were nine,
Nine little children swinging on a gate, one had allergies, then there were eight;
Eight little children talking about heaven, one had mitochondrial disorder and then there were seven;
Seven little children, picking up sticks, one had bipolar and then there were six;
Six little children learning how to dive; one had PDD and then there were five
Five little children playing on the floor, one had diabetes and then there were four;
Four little children, climbing on a tree, one had OCD and then there were three;
Three little children visiting a zoo, one had tourettes and then there were two;
Two little children playing in the sun, one had autism and then there was one;
One little child standing all alone, "where are all my friends?" he cried, "I think I'll just go home.
No little children going out to play. Why is it so quiet on this sunny day? Perhaps we should all reflect on what this means and pray, why no little children are going out to play.
Posted by: Sarah | March 18, 2013 at 09:48 AM
My daughter had an anaphylactic reaction at school. She had no known allergies begore this happenned, and fortunately, I was at school and able to use her brother's epi-pen. The school did not have epi-pens to use and could not use those prescribed for other children. She had been allergy tested before with no known allergies. The what if was real and I was there or who knows what would have happened.
Posted by: Sue | March 17, 2013 at 12:42 PM
My niece's husband thought he had a peanut allergy because he started to react to his beloved peanut butter even when his kids were eating peanut butter sandwiches in the same room as him. He got a EpiPen, then the doctor did tests and said his VitD (OH) was so low that this was causing this allergy reaction. The doctor put him on 6000 units of Vit3D and said he was not allergic to peanut butter.
Posted by: ldb | March 16, 2013 at 02:59 PM
".....Teen in RI died after eating HALF A COOKIE - made w peanut oil. Read this story - we need to ask WHY ARE BAKED GOODS KILLING OUR KIDS? What have we done to the human immune system to wreak such havoc?...."
In 1901, Dr. Charles Richet identified and named the condition anaphylaxis. He proved that anaphylaxis was an inevitable side effect of vaccinations. He showed that is was a universal reaction in any animal to having a protein injected into the bloodstream. The first injection sensitizes, and the second injection or subsequent consumption of the offending protein will unleash this life threatening reaction.
It's my understanding that many, but obviously not all north american childhood vaccines contain peanut oil. Which goes a long way to to explain why not ALL children have been stricken by this condition..... and of course gives the media just enough to claim there is no "proof" that vaccines are responsible.
It's also my understanding that in Israel, peanut allergies are practically unheard of. While the Israeli population DOES eat lots of peanuts, they also produce lots of sesame oil... which they use instead of peanut oil in the manufacture of their vaccines. And it's SESAME that's a major cause of food allergies, second only to cow's milk as a cause of anaphylaxis.
Posted by: Barry | March 15, 2013 at 09:53 PM
"...Severe food allergies stem from a combination of genes, environment and possibly diet, said Dr. Kari Nadeau, associate professor of allergies and immunology..."
1. WHAT genes are causing these severe food allergies, and HOW are they causing them?
2. WHAT from the environment is causing severe food allergies, and HOW is it causing them?
3. HOW can a child possibly develop a severe food allergy to a food they've eaten, and WHY is it that the same two food allergies (... peanuts and shell fish) are popping in places like Alaska and Nevada, where diet , genetics AND environment couldn't be more different?
Posted by: Barry | March 15, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Thanks for the article (http://gma.yahoo.com/allergic-teen-dies-eating-cookie-050855791--abc-news-wellness.html), Kim. Re excerpt below and the stated need for "more research", maybe they could start with investigating possible allergic sensitization from vaccine ingredients?
"At least three million American children suffer from a food or digestive allergy, and the problem is growing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between 1997 and 2007, the figure rose 18 percent.
Severe food allergies stem from a combination of genes, environment and possibly diet, said Dr. Kari Nadeau, associate professor of allergies and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
"We need more research to be done to help save lives," she said. "We don't have all the answers now.""
Posted by: Linda | March 15, 2013 at 05:19 PM
There is an easy solution to some of the above challenges. Abolish public schools. The answer to a large remainder of the above challenges. Stop vaccinating.
Posted by: ioneskye | March 15, 2013 at 02:39 PM
One thing that struck me about this--- why in the world would these drug companies ever want the epidemics of ill health and developmental disorders to end? With each dollar they profit from it, any incentive to find the true cause and stop it diminishes. Profits are a disincentive to finding cause. What a disaster-- even if epipens in schools will save lives.
People like simple messages, simple problems, things which are black and white, which makes conveying issues like this all the more challenging. We're in a Chinese thumb trap with so many of these spiraling problems, but that's disaster capitalism in a nutshell. Create the life and death crisis (easy and no need to plan it: just continue with incompetent science and policy and let the predictable disasters unfold), then turn it into a protection racket where the victims can hardly refuse the "help."
Posted by: Adriana | March 15, 2013 at 02:33 PM
My mother is a special ed assistant and the child she one on oned with a few years ago named patrick had a bee sting allergy. This kid would have died if my mom was not trained in first aid class to give the kid his epi pen becuase a bee stung him one day on the playground. Imagine if some medical bureaucracy said you must be a nurse to give Patty his meds. If you an non medical teacher do it you go to jail goodness forbid. They also have siezure kids in which a fast acting medicine gaven through the back end ends bad siezures and a parent out here in california sued so a non nurse can be certified to give the shot after that persons child almost died. That latter article may be found somewhere on this website.
Posted by: w Ford | March 15, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Teen in RI died after eating HALF A COOKIE - made w peanut oil. Read this story - we need to ask WHY ARE BAKED GOODS KILLING OUR KIDS? What have we done to the human immune system to wreak such havoc? Mom had an expired epipen. Tragic from top to bottom - Heather, thank you for talking about this insane change to childhood. http://gma.yahoo.com/allergic-teen-dies-eating-cookie-050855791--abc-news-wellness.html
Posted by: Stagmom | March 15, 2013 at 11:55 AM
i was shocked to hear about someone who "looked forward to the day they ( allergy Moms) were “covered by 6 feet of dirt” and clicked on the link to read the article. nothing of the kind there. in fact, the writer says:
"The nuanced take-away is that American parents might be nurturing allergies by avoiding foods early.
Or maybe not. We don’t really know.
But this much I know.
If your child, or grandchild, is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, you’d beat down the locked doors of a pharmacy at midnight for an epinephrine shot.
Nostalgia for filthy little rascals may be so much sepia-toned rubbish, but it’s a perception that won’t die until the Greatest Generation of Parents is covered by 6 feet of dirt."
It is obvious to me that the writer identifies with the "Greatest Generation of Parents" and basically means "until we all die out"
I had never heard about the journalist before this article, but find it upsetting how easily words are twisted.
Posted by: tk | March 15, 2013 at 11:40 AM
Don't forget that the EpiPen has an expiration date (and can 'go bad' if not stored at the right temperature) so not only are schools purchasing initial stocks, they would need to purchase them REGULARLY. Good score PHARMA! Your stockholders are giddy over the new revenues.
Posted by: AmyinIdaho | March 15, 2013 at 11:03 AM
One wonders where a school is going to store all of these "what if" pens? Having the 4 free in a drawer for a nurse to use in case of emergency makes sense. Getting more - a case? 3 cases? simply means they will be stored in some out of the way spot and inaccessible in the event of a true emergency.
Posted by: Vicki Hill | March 15, 2013 at 08:09 AM