New law says Israeli schools must always have Epipens on site

“The cost of syringes is lower than that of the cookies placed in the teachers’ room."

May 22, 2018 17:23
2 minute read.

EpiPen auto-injection epinephrine pens manufactured by Mylan NV pharmaceutical company for use by severe allergy sufferers are seen in Washington, U.S. August 24, 2016. . (photo credit: JIM BOURG / REUTERS)

Educational institutions at the preschool, primary and secondary levels, including boarding schools, will be required to have at least one automatic epinephrine (Epipen) syringe for emergency treatment of anaphylactic shock, a serious allergic reaction.

This was decided on Monday by the Knesset’s Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee, which approved on its second and third readings a bill proposed by MKs Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union), Yehudah Glick (Likud) and others.

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The Epipen, which costs over NIS 400 and has to be replaced regularly, must be at a suitable dosage for the typical weight of the children in the institution. If necessary, various syringes for different weights must be on hand. The law will take effect six months after its publication in the State of Israel’s official gazette Reshumot.

Nursery schools and kindergartens with at least 10 children, as well as rehabilitation schools and after-school frameworks will also have to equip themselves with the Epipen.

Glick said that “this law will surely save lives by requiring the addition of a small syringe to each institution’s first-aid kit.” He added that he had worked on the bill for more than 18 months.

Committee Chairman Eli Alalouf (Kulanu) reprimanded Education Ministry representative Adi Noam Savir, who demanded that the Health Ministry be responsible for the law and supervise its implementation. “Why does the Education Ministry evade concern for children’s health?”

“The cost of syringes is lower than that of the cookies placed in the teachers’ room,” said Yael Zevulun, a member of the Israel Food Allergies Association.

Noam Palik, a representative of the Labor and Social Welfare Ministry, asked to exclude boarding schools for teenagers because of the relative age of the patients and the inclusion of the syringe in the health basket for individuals who suffer from serious allergies - but his request was rejected.

“We will not neglect the children of boarding schools. The law is intended for those who are not aware of being allergic and will experience an allergic reaction for the first time, not for those who carry their own syringe,” replied Alalouf. Maya Nir Eliaz of the voluntary organization Yahel echoed Alalouf’s position.

Mira Solomon, a lawyer at the Center for Local Government, demanded that the annual cost of purchasing the syringes, about NIS 3 million a year, be covered by government ministries and not local authorities: “You get all the money you need,” Alalouf retorted.

In recent months, there have been reports of a shortage of Epipens in various parts of the US, where families have to “look hard” to buy the product, but so far there has been enough of a supply here.

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