An Irish pharmaceutical company will partner with an American distributor to offer a free carton of Narcan nasal spray – a drug which blocks opioid overdose effects – to all United States high schools, according to an article by Education Week.
Narcan, which is also known by its generic name, naloxone, prohibits opioids from depressing the nervous system by attaching itself to receptors in a person’s central nervous system. The FDA-approved drug acts as an antidote for opioid-, fentanyl- and heroin-related overdose.
Opioid overdoses have been a growing concern nationwide in recent years, with prescription drug and heroin abuse increasing across all demographic groups. A 2013 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) survey of high school students found that 2.2% had used heroin at the some point, while 17.8% said they had used a prescription drug without permission. In addition, 22.1% said they were offered, sold or given illegal drugs on school property.
Adapt Pharma said it is teaming with Smith Medical Partners, LLC to provide the Narcan.
“This device will equip those in our communities – families, friends, caregivers and school nurses – with a tool they can rely on without need for medical training or expertise,” Adapt Pharma’s U.S. Operations President Mike Kelly said in a statement.
Last year, The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) said that its members should review local and state policy on how to access naloxone and implement its use as part of their school emergency response protocol, ABC News reported.
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Narcan Availability Increasing
In general, it’s becoming easier to find naloxone.
Walgreens announced earlier this year that they will sell the drug without a prescription in states where it’s legal. The pharmacy will also be adding safe medical disposal kiosks in more than 500 stores open 24 hours.
At this time, naloxone is available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington, D.C., which means the drug will be available in about 5,800 of Walgreens’ 8,200 stores. The drug store chain said it will coordinate with drug regulators in states where a prescription is required to increase naloxone’s availability.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also a proponent for increased naloxone availability.
A 2015 CDC study concluded that allowing basic emergency medical services (EMS) staff “to administer naloxone could reduce drug overdose deaths that involve opioids” and “can be life-saving if administered in time.”
As of 2014, advanced EMS staff in all 50 states can administer naloxone; however, only 12 states permit basic EMS staff to use it.
The CDC has compiled data detailing the extent of the problem.
There were 47,055 drug overdose deaths in 2014, a 6.5% increase from 2013 and a 140% jump since 2000. Drug overdose deaths have climbed 137% since 2000, while opioid-related overdoses have risen 200%.
Prescription opioids, which are often prescribed for chronic pain not related to cancer, were associated with 16,000 U.S. deaths in 2013, while another 8,000 were heroin-related.