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Advocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction
A coalition to push for EpiPens on commercial fights was formed this week in the wake of a college student's recent allergy attack on a flight.
Robert Houton, the founder of government relations firm Houton Strategies, launched the Coalition for Lifesaving Epinephrine Auto-injector Rights (CLEAR) on Monday, and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) joined as its first member, The Hill first reported.
GBTA represents the business travel industry and is made up of over 9,000 business travel professionals from every continent.
CLEAR has also reached out to Airlines for America, Mylan, the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM), US Travel Association, Children's Hospital Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
The student, Alexa Jordan, was flying home to Chicago from Boston. where she attends Harvard University. She suffered an allergic reaction mid-flight while eating a salad she had purchased at the airport, which she believes was cross-contaminated with cashews.
She said the Southwest Airlines flight attendant told her they did not have an EpiPen onboard, NBC Chicago reported. Southwest Airlines told NBC they offered her an EpiPen and it was declined.
"They said they offered me an EpiPen - they did not," she said. "They did not even tell me there was epinephrine on the plane."
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that airlines equip their planes with vials of epinephrine to be administered with syringes and are not required to have epinephrine auto-injectors on planes.
"This is a legacy safety issue and it is CLEAR epinephrine auto-injectors must be stocked on commercial aircraft. Leadership is now. No organization in this realm has an excuse to not at least listen," Houton told The Hill.
The last congressional action on the issue was from ex-Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who introduced an unsuccessful bill in 2015. It would have directed the FAA to require a carrier have at least two packs of epinephrine auto-injectors on each aircraft, replace them upon expiration or use, and train crew members on how to recognize the symptoms of an acute allergic reaction.
CLEAR is currently considering language for new legislation to offer Congress. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who now holds Kirk's seat, is in discussions with the coalition, CLEAR told The Hill.
The next step for CLEAR is a meeting in D.C. with activists, organizations, and companies related to the airline industry on July 23.
Aside from GBTA and the other groups, they have invited Southwest Airlines, American Express and Expedia, among others.