Food Allergy Organizations Unite to Combat the Crisis and Find a Cure

In the United States, food allergies send a person to the emergency room every three minutes and account for over a million emergency department visits each year. For about 140,000 patients each year, their food allergies result in anaphylaxis – a serious life-threatening consequence. Of these, up to 1,000, many of them children, will die.

Which is why we were pleased to learn that the nation’s two leading food allergy organizations are planning to merge.

Rather than competing for funding, as they have in the past, the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) and the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) will unite. In doing so they hope to secure the private and public support needed to advance a cure for food allergies, and provide critical resources for food-allergic individuals and families.

Recent research shows that food allergies are a significant and growing public health issue affecting 1 out of every 13 children – roughly two in every classroom. With nearly 40% of these children already having experienced a severe or life-threatening food-allergic reaction, the need for a cure is urgent.

The merger will combine FAAN’s expertise as a trusted source of information, programs, and resources related to food allergy and anaphylaxis with FAI’s leadership as the world’s largest private source of funding for food allergy research.

FAI and FAAN have collaborated for nearly 15 years on initiatives to increase understanding of the severity of food allergies and to support food-allergic families,” said Todd Slotkin, chairman of FAI. “Bringing together the considerable expertise and resources that both organizations offer will elevate both our ongoing private commitment to find a cure for food allergies and our work on behalf of the food-allergic community.”

Every day we work with thousands of families across the United States who are dealing with the serious physical, social, and emotional impacts of food allergies,” said Janet Atwater, chair of FAAN. “The unification of FAAN and FAI allows us to move forward together as an even stronger champion for these families and the driving force advancing research to find a cure.”

SRxA’s Word on Health applauds this initiative and looks forward to seeing the benefits of this collaboration. In the meantime we think the ‘more can be achieved by collaborating than competing‘ message could be an important one for congress.

4 thoughts on “Food Allergy Organizations Unite to Combat the Crisis and Find a Cure

  1. A Chesterfield mom is taking her fight for Epipens in schools to Washington D.C. She’s pushing for legislation to put Epipens in schools nationwide.
    Laura Pendleton lost her seven-year-old daughter, Amarria Johnson, after she ate a peanut at Hopkins Elementary School in Chesterfield. She went into anaphylactic shock and then went into cardiac arrest.
    Ammaria’s death has sparked a series of reforms both at the state and local level. Now Ammaria’s mother is taking her fight nationwide. She will testify in Washington about federal legislation to get Epipens in all schools across the country.
    Pendleton was instrumental in the effort to pass a bill here in Virginia to require EpiPens at all schools.
    Governor Bob McDonnell signed that bill into law a few weeks ago. It goes into effect July first.

  2. Another tragic reminder of the need for better anaphylaxis education and care:
    High School Soccer Player Dies After Eating Macadamia Nut Cookie
    May 16, 2012 10:36 AM
    McDONOUGH, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) — A teenager died from an apparent allergic reaction to nuts after collapsing in front of his soccer teammates at a McDonough restaurant.
    Diallo Robbins-Brinson, a 15-year-old student at Central High School, had a fatal allergic reaction Sunday after eating a white chocolate chip cookie with Macadamia nuts at a Golden Corral restaurant.
    “He thought he was eating something safe,” Larmia Robbins-Brinson, Diallo’s mother, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He loved them. If he had smelled peanut butter, he wouldn’t have picked them.”
    The teenager, who had never before had an allergic reaction to Macadamia nuts, collapsed minutes after eating the cookies. His mother used an EpiPen a stranger gave her to administer to her son.
    Paramedics were able to stabilize Diallo Robbins-Brinson while taking him to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, but he never regained consciousness and had no brain activity. He died Monday.
    “I knew in my heart then that he wasn’t going to make it because he had been too long without air,” she told the Journal-Constitution.
    Diallo Robbins-Brinson’s organs have been donated.

  3. On Tuesday May 22, Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law legislation that didn’t get much attention but may be considered, among many parents of allergic children, a long overdue regulation.
    The new law requires schools to establish policies regarding the use and availability of epinephrine, an emergency treatment for allergic reactions.
    Its passage is part of a larger movement to recognize the growing danger that allergies pose to children, one that got a tragic jolt earlier this year from a little Virginia girl who died after sharing a snack with a friend in the schoolyard.
    Gov. Robert F. McDonnell with Laura Pendleton, whose daughter died at school of an allergic reaction to peanuts, at the signing of “Amarria’s Law.” (Michaele White)
    Seven-year-old Amarria Johnson reacted immediately to the peanut she ate at her Chesterfield County elementary school in January. She sought help from school officials, who aided her but had no epinephrine or EpiPen injector, when she stopped breathing.
    Amarria’s mother, Laura Pendleton, has said she had previously alerted the school to her daughter’s allergies, but the school didn’t stock an EpiPen, which might have saved the girl.
    Last month, Virginia passed a law requiring schools to keep EpiPen on hand — legislation called “Amarria’s Law.”
    Food allergies have been on the rise across the country and advocates have warned that tragedies like Amarria’s death are an increasing danger.
    Close to 8 percent of children in the U.S. have food allergies, according to the most comprehensive study to date on the subject. Of those, close to 40 percent have severe reactions researchers said in the survey published in January in the journal Pediatrics.
    Allergy advocates say schools have been slow to accept the dangers of allergic reactions and few have policies related to emergency responses or treatment. Just last week, many of those advocates, including Pendleton, came to Capitol Hill to lobby for national legislation.
    “Witnessing the pain she [has] undergone, we are determined to see the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act passed into law,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn) wrote on a blog for the Hill after meeting with Pendleton.
    The two have introduced legislation that would provide incentives for states to enact EpiPen laws.
    “There are no Republican or Democratic solutions to this problem, only a human solution based in compassion and common sense,” the two wrote.
    Currently, Maryland joins at least seven other states that have some regulation regarding schools and EpiPens according to the Fairfax-based Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.
    But most of these laws are rather spotty — the Maryland law mandates only school boards come up with a policy.
    Worse, they are coming too late. A sad fact about the laws that do exist is that Amarria’s Law is not the only one named for a child, a child who did not live to see the passage.

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