New law allows pharmacists to administer epinephrine

HB 1550 provides easier access to life-saving drug

By Pilar Arias - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - In a life or death situation, every second counts.

Starting in 2016, there’s going to be another place to go for help when dealing with one of the most common medical emergencies.

“I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t anything,” Bonnie Hiland said about her last allergic reaction.

Epinephrine, in the form of EpiPen (TM), saved Hiland’s life twice. She hasn’t quite narrowed down exactly what she’s allergic to, but notices reactions to certain scents and perfumes.

People who currently suffer from severe allergic reactions called anaphylaxis have limited options. However, on Jan. 1, that’s about to change. Patients will no longer have to call 911 or drive to an emergency medical center for life-saving help.

“To get to an urgent care you’re going to pass three pharmacies,” Dean Arcelia Johnson-Fannin of the University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy said.

The law lets pharmacists treat allergy emergencies and that’s something Johnson-Fannin is grateful for. The industry professional said often times pharmacists were caught between a rock and a hard place deciding whether to treat patients or lose their jobs.

“Even if emergency medical technicians are right around the corner, it is often too late because the airway gets blocked without the epinephrine and we can no longer get access to your lungs,” Johnson-Fannin said.

Chris Alvarado, manager at Oakdell Pharmacy at the Quarry, spoke with the KSAT 12 Defenders about the law impacting the profession. He said roles continue to change as pharmacists are now able to give immunizations in many locations.

The law passed by the Texas Legislature is known as House Bill 1550. It requires pharmacists alert a patients primary care doctor within 72 hours after giving the shot, call 911 immediately after administering the auto injector and keep detailed records at the pharmacy location for two years.

The Texas State Board of Pharmacy adopted the rules related to the law on Nov. 3.

A spokesman from the Texas Pharmacy Association said the law is really about putting the patient first and freeing a pharmacist up to act when seconds truly matter.

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