All Pennsylvania schools will be offered a free case of naloxone nasal spray, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, in a partnership between the state, a drug company, and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, Gov. Tom Wolf announced this week.
The announcement comes as schools across the country are considering stocking naloxone in response to growing concerns about the abuse of prescription drugs and heroin by people of all ages. Some state and local government agencies have implemented new requirements for school nurses to stock the drug, and some have eased requirements to allow a broader range of health care professionals to administer it.
The partnership makes the Keystone State the first to implement the overdose drug program in partnership with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, which is part of the Clinton Foundation. Pennsylvania high schools can also use educational materials offered by the National Association of School Nurses as part of the agreement, Wolf’s office said.
“I am thrilled to announce my administration’s next step in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” Wolf said in a statement. “By equipping trained professionals in schools with this drug, we are providing another way to save Pennsylvanian lives. It is our responsibility to give these struggling individuals another chance at life.”
Responding to increasing interest in naloxone in school settings, the National Association of School Nurse’s Board of Directors adopted a position statement on Naloxone Use in the School Setting, The Role of the School Nurse in the summer of 2015.
About 2.2 percent of respondents to a nationally representative 2013 survey of high school students said they had used heroin at least once in their lifetimes, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On the same survey, 17.8 percent of respondents said they had taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s permission, and 22.1 percent of respondents said they’d been offered, sold, or given any type of illegal drug on school property.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.