Bronoske introduces bill to make epinephrine more accessible for schools

OLYMPIA – Rep. Dan Bronoske (D-Lakewood) introduced legislation Thursday to increase the availability of epinephrine for schools. Epinephrine is used for emergency treatment of a severe allergic reaction or to treat anaphylaxis. Most associated with epinephrine auto-injectors, it can also be administered by a medical professional with a regular syringe. Currently, schools are allowed to have an auto-injector on hand but are prohibited from having a nurse administer epinephrine from a vial. HB 1608 would allow schools to purchase a vial of epinephrine, resulting in substantial savings.

“The idea for this bill came from a call that I went on in my other job as a firefighter,” said Bronoske. “We were called to a local high school to monitor a student who was stung by a bee and may have had a severe allergic reaction. We were required on the scene because the school did not have an auto-injector available as they are cost-prohibitive to always have on stock. With the skyrocketing costs of auto-injectors, it is time that we allow registered nurses to administer epinephrine from a vial. This will deliver considerable cost savings to schools and ensure that school nurses can save the life of a student with a severe allergic reaction.”

The cost of a name-brand auto-injectors has increased drastically in the past few years to around $700 for a kit that contains two. Meanwhile, a vial of epinephrine costs roughly $20 to $30. Due to the instability of epinephrine, it generally expires around one year after manufacture.

“When someone needs an auto-injector, calling emergency services might not be quick enough. Schools need to have epinephrine readily available to protect their students, but high prices for auto-injectors combined with tight budgets have prevented some schools from keeping it on hand. This commonsense measure will allow a registered nurse to dispense epinephrine from a vial, saving schools hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars and ensuring that students have quick access in an emergency. This is especially important in rural areas where emergency services can take longer to arrive,” said Bronoske.

HB 1608 has been referred to the House Education Committee.