Colleges will be able to get several free doses of a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, a sign of the widening impact of the deadly epidemic and increased efforts to combat it.
The Clinton Foundation and Adapt Pharma are working together to give colleges 40,000 doses of NARCAN nasal spray, the only FDA-approved nasal spray. It is designed to be simple enough to administer that people without medical training can provide a potentially lifesaving dose.
More than 33,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exceeding the number killed by guns for the first time.
“The program has three goals: education, awareness and expansion of naloxone,” said Mike Kelly, the U.S. president of Adapt Pharma. “There’s a stigma about the disease and getting people to talk about it in an open forum, in schools, is a good place to start. There is an antidote…there’s a simple, ready, easy-to-use product on the marketplace.”
Because NARCAN is a nasal spray, it’s not something that only medical professionals and first responders can use – although after it is administered, the patient needs emergency medical care to follow up on the dose.
They’re trying to provide help where it’s needed,” said Alex Chan, director of national health for the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation as most overdoses of heroin and similar drugs don’t happen in clinical settings. The effort, announced Monday by Kelly and former president Bill Clinton, expands upon an earlier initiative that has given out more than 3,000 free doses of NARCAN Nasal Spray to high schools in 33 states.
A 2015 survey found that nearly 16 percent of college-aged people in the United States said they had used opioids without a prescription and one third said painkillers and similar pills are easy to get. While 31 percent said they knew someone who had overdosed on such drugs, 37 percent said they wouldn’t know where to go for help. The results were very similar among those who were in college and those who were not.
In September, the National Association of School Nurses developed an educational toolkit for schools, funded by a non-branded grant from Adapt Pharma, to increase awareness of the risks of such drugs among students and their families, teachers and others, and teach them about options if an overdose is suspected.
The American College Health Association advises that college health centers should consider adding naloxone to their emergency box, ensure that staff have training, expertise and equipment to help the airway of an unconscious person and provide IV fluids, and plan their emergency response.
Source: Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)