School Climate & Safety

Drug to Treat Opioid, Heroin Overdoses Offered Free to All U.S. High Schools

By Evie Blad — April 28, 2016 1 min read
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A pharmaceutical company based in Ireland announced today plans to partner with an American distributor to offer a free carton of the overdose drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan, to every high school in the United States.

Naloxone can help stabilize people suffering from opioid or heroin overdoses until emergency medical help arrives by slowing the drugs’ effects on their respiratory and nervous systems.

Adapt Pharma’s plans to offer a nasal spray version of the drug to high schools builds on its previous work with the National Association of School Nurses to fund “efforts to increase awareness of opioid-related risks among students, educators, families and communities,” the company said.

Drug overdoses have been an issue of increasing concern in all sectors in recent years as abuse of prescription drugs and heroin climbs across demographic groups. And this concern has spread to public schools, which have responded by adapting their prevention curricula to address the issue and, in some cases, offering additional professional development to school nurses who may have to address drug-related issues. Some states have also passed laws requiring schools to stock overdose drugs.

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.

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Photo: Narcan is one brand of the anti-opiate drug naloxone. A nasal spray version has received FDA approval. Matthew Rakola/Adapt Pharma

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.