A trio of Senate Democrats want EpiPens to be a mandatory component of in-flight emergency kits on US commercial flights.
Senators Want EpiPens Mandatory On Flights
In a note to the Federal Aviation Administration signed by Elizabeth Warren (D – MA), Chuck Schumer (D – NY), and Ed Markey (D – MA), the US Senators panned a “glaring gap” in current regulations governing in-flight emergency kits. These kits, which must be fully-stocked and boarded before a commercial flight can legally take off to or from the United States, include several life-saving items including epinephrine in syringes “designed to be used primarily in the event of a cardiac emergency.”
But as of now, there is no requirement that the kit contains an epinephrine auto-injector, such as an EpiPen, that makes it easy for anyone to administer. As the Senators argue:
While epinephrine may be administered through a traditional injection by a trained medical professional, auto-injector devices are commonly used in emergency situations and offer a quick-to-use, pre-measured method that a layperson can use to immediately administer the necessary treatment.
This gap, the Senators claim, leave Americans at risk:
The glaring gap in FAA’s regulations disregards the widely-accepted guidance by medical professionals who stress the importance of epinephrine auto-injectors in treating anaphylaxis, and puts airline passengers at risk.
While some airlines claim they stock EpiPens, there is currently no mechanism to verify this and there are pecuniary concerns at play. As noted by Dr. James R. Baker Jr., the Director of the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center at the University of Michigan, on GMA:
“The reason epinephrine in auto-injectors are not routinely stocked on planes is that they’re given very short shelf lives. So in fact, they have to be replaced continuously and they cost much, much more than regular epinephrine. The fact that the airlines would have to … go in and replace the auto-injectors in these kits, and the expense of that really precludes a lot of airlines from doing this.”
EpiPens can run $650 to $750 each without insurance and have a shelf-life of 12 to 18 months, which is a cost that certainly can add up for airlines.
Three US Senators are proposing mandatory EpiPens on US commercial flights. The FAA has promised to respond to their letter.
In any case, passengers are always advised to bring their own EpiPens in case of emergency. But with food allergies seemingly more prevalent than ever, it might not be a bad idea for airlines to have back-up options in place.
Should EpiPens be mandatory onboard US commercial flights?
image: Tony Webster / Flickr