• 7th grader inspires bill letting restaurants stock EpiPens

    By: SHIRA SCHOENBERG, MassLive.com

    Updated:
    BOSTON (AP) - The first time Kennedy Pelletier had an allergic reaction, she was eating at a restaurant at Disney, and didn't know what the problem was.

    Pelletier, of Wilbraham, later discovered she was severely allergic to fish, shellfish and seafood.

    A year and a half ago, she had another reaction after eating with friends at a restaurant in Boston. Although she tried to avoid seafood, she was exposed to an allergen through cross-contamination. She got hives across her body for three days.

    Pelletier, a seventh grader at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, approached Sen. Jim Welch, D-West Springfield, and urged him to sponsor a bill that would allow restaurants to carry EpiPens. Pelletier, her parents and her entire class traveled to the Statehouse Tuesday to testify at a hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Health on Welch's bill, S.1355. Similar bills have been introduced in the past but never passed the Legislature.

    "We share her concern that many people who have life-threatening allergies don't know they have life-threatening allergies before they have a severe reaction," said her mother, Michelle Regnier-Pelletier.

    The bill would let pharmacists dispense EpiPens to a restaurant, and would let restaurants maintain a supply of EpiPens, or epinephrine auto-injectors. The devices would be available to a patient, family member of health care provider who happens to be in the restaurant when a person has an allergic reaction.

    The restaurant would be protected from liability. The usage of the EpiPen would be regulated by the local health department or board. Restaurants would have to file a report each time an EpiPen is used.

    Although the bill says the restaurant "may" carry an EpiPen, Welch said his ultimate goal is to require all restaurants have one on site.

    "I think a restaurant can bear the cost of one EpiPen for the safety of all their customers," Welch said.

    Welch said while most people with severe food allergies carry their own EpiPens, there may be a situation where someone does not have one, and the bill will ensure that one is available.

    Online: https://bit.ly/32bZ0xE

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    Information from: The Springfield (Mass.) Republican, http://www.masslive.com/news/

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