Colleges To Receive 40,000 Doses of Narcan To Fight Opioid Epidemic

By Britni de la Cretaz 04/14/17

Colleges have been advised to ensure that campus staff are properly trained to administer naloxone in the event of an overdose.

Teacher showing college students how to administer Narcan.
Teacher showing college students how to administer Narcan. Photo via YouTube

The Clinton Foundation and Adapt Pharma have partnered in an initiative to give colleges 40,000 doses of Narcan nasal spray. Narcan is simple enough to use that people without clinical training can administer the drug to reverse an opioid overdose. This effort builds upon an earlier initiative that gave out more than 3,000 doses of Narcan to high schools in 33 states, according to the Washington Post.

“It’s going to be a catalyst to get it into colleges and high schools across the country,” Mike Kelly, U.S. president of Adapt Pharma, told the Washington Post. “If you give it to people for free, they’ll say, ‘I want it.’ … Long term, I hope every school in America has Narcan. That’s our goal.”

In 2015, the FDA fast-tracked approval of the nasal spray in order to help prevent overdoses and combat the current opioid epidemic. In Ohio, Adapt Pharma, who manufactures Narcan, announced a year-long price freeze on the drug in order to make it more accessible.

The American College Health Association (ACHA) advises that college health centers add naloxone to their emergency toolkits, and ensure that staff have proper training and an emergency plan in case of an opioid overdose. The ACHA’s opioid guidelines also state that it can “be considered reasonable to prescribe naloxone along with prescription opioids, especially in chronic use patients,” and indicates that federal funding is available for states to purchase naloxone and have first responders trained in its use.

A 2015 survey by Hazelden Betty Ford found that nearly 16% of college-aged people in the U.S. said they had used opioids without a prescription, and a third said painkillers and similar pills are easy to get. Almost 31% said they knew someone who had overdosed on such drugs, but 37% said they wouldn’t know where to go for help.

"Notably, the survey found very little difference in the responses among those who went to college and those who didn't," Nick Motu, Vice President of the Institute for Recovery Advocacy, said in a statement. One difference, however, was that respondents who went to college were more likely to think that prescription pain medication was less risky than heroin.

"The death toll from opioids is rising among young people," said Frederick Chicos, founder of The Christie Foundation, who partnered with Hazelden Betty Ford on the survey. "The Christie Foundation has accepted the challenge to inform and educate college and university leaders that they need to publicly discuss the dangers of opioids on their campuses and work together to find solutions that will save this generation from the crisis the CDC calls a national epidemic."

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.