Those hoping that epinephrine auto-injectors would be required by law on all U.S. flights will have to hold that hope a while longer. The bipartisan bill S. 1972, the Airline Access To Emergency Epinephrine Act, was presented for Senate consideration alongside the Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorization Bill. Though the FAA Reauthorization was given Senate approval, S. 1972 was not.
The Airline Epinephrine Act would have ensured that all airlines carry epinephrine auto-injectors (EAIs), and that crew members would be trained in allergy symptom recognition and EAI use. The bill also called for a report to Congress on current airline food allergy policies, hoping it would lead to consistent accommodations throughout the industry.
Although the fate of S. 1972 is disappointing, some food allergy awareness was raised by introducing the legislation. In section 3105, the FAA Reauthorization bill now states:
- The FAA is required “to evaluate and revise, as appropriate, the regulations regarding the on-board emergency medical equipment requirements, including the contents of the first-aid kit.”
- The FAA is instructed: “to consider whether the minimum contents of approved emergency medical kits include appropriate medications and equipment to meet the emergency medical needs of children, including the consideration of an epinephrine auto-injector as appropriate.”
Those who diligently advocated for S. 1972 choose to see EAIs mention in the reauthorization act as a step in the right direction. They will be following the FAA bill to the House of Representatives, working to augment the provisions of section 3105.
The S. 1972 bill was backed by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), several other advocacy organizations, and was endorsed by the Association of Flight Attendants, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
“We try to take the long view in terms of gaining ground, and developing new champions on the Hill,” commented Scott Riccio, FARE’s senior vice-president of education and advocacy. “We are also continuing to work hard…to address the other areas from the original S. 1972 bill that haven’t yet been included in other legislation.”
Anyone interested in helping FARE gain ground on Capitol Hill might consider joining their Advocates Network (link below), or contact state representatives to express support for Section 3105 of the FAA Reauthorization Act (S. 2658).