NASHVILLE — A bill to allow epinephrine auto-injectors to be available in public spaces has become law in Tennessee. The legislation was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives and Senate and has been signed by the governor.
Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) and Rep. Sabi Kumar (R-Springfield) were prime sponsors of the legislation, HB2054/SB1989.
“For Tennesseans who suffer life-threatening allergies and for those that may not even know they have severe allergies, this legislation will make a significant difference in avoiding an emergency in public places across the state,” Green said. “I am proud to have sponsored the bill and appreciate the strong support it received.”
“The overwhelming support this bill received is a testament to the fact that it just makes sense to protect our citizens along with people visiting our state who could suffer from a severe allergic reaction in a public place or large gathering,” Kumar said.
Along with making epinephrine auto-injectors available in public spaces that attract groups of people and where exposure to allergens could pose a risk to those who know they have allergies and those who are unaware that they may be at risk for anaphylaxis (a severe, sometimes life-threatening, allergic reaction) has become law in Tennessee the legislation authorizes trained individuals as well as others acting under the supervision of a physician to provide or administer an epinephrine auto-injector under certain circumstances, which would allow organizations such as scout troops, daycares, colleges and universities, restaurants, sports arenas, and other business entities to obtain a prescription and have the life-saving medication on hand for use in an emergency.
The bill also protects those who prescribe, dispense, and administer epinephrine auto-injectors under the provisions of the bill civil liability. It does not, however, protect against gross negligence, and entities that choose not to have auto-injectors available are protected from civil liability as part of the legislation.
Nineteen states have passed similar legislation – 16 of those laws were passed in 2015, including in Michigan, New Jersey, Kentucky and West Virginia. Legislation is also pending in additional states including Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
It is estimated that at least one in 13 children in the U.S. is living with a food allergy, and according to federal guidelines, epinephrine is the treatment that should be given first when a person is experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction.