HARRISBURG, Pa., April 12, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Wolf announced today that his administration, in partnership with Adapt Pharma, has taken the next step in its effort to make the life-saving medication Narcan (naloxone) available to public high schools in Pennsylvania at no cost. The departments of Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, State and Education have now begun the application process for 642 public high schools in the state to obtain a free two-dose carton of the heroin antidote Narcan.
Governor Wolf praised the rollout as another crucial development in the effort to combat the opioid crisis in the commonwealth.
"The opioid addiction and overdose epidemic affects people in every walk of life in every corner of our state – and this includes our young children in our schools," said Governor Wolf. "By expanding access to this overdose reversal drug, we are doing our best to ensure that the first responders to the scene of an overdose can save lives. In addition, schools can play a crucial role in changing the course of addiction by working closely with their students and families. It is our responsibility to ensure that struggling Pennsylvanians can receive our help when they need it."
Pennsylvania is the first state to implement what will serve as a model program in partnership with Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical company Adapt Pharma to increase statewide access to Narcan, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.
"This program is already having an impact nationally as school nurses in other states are looking to Pennsylvania as a delivery model," said Health Secretary Karen Murphy. "We firmly believe quick access to Narcan in school buildings will save lives and give young people suffering from addiction a chance for a healthy and productive future."
In order to be eligible for this program, a public high school must submit a completed application to the Department of Health that includes the following:
- A standing order from the school physician allowing the school nurse to receive and administer Narcan;
- A specific policy adopted by the Board of School Directors with specific reference to Narcan administration or such language included as an addendum to the district's current medication administration policy; and,
- A statement that the school nurse has completed the Pennsylvania Department of Health's approved training.
Once approved, schools will receive a single carton of Narcan nasal spray, a brand of naloxone, which will be distributed through state health centers beginning in early May.
Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera praised the availability of Narcan as a step toward improving the safety of students.
"By providing schools access to this life-saving medicine, we are proactively increasing safety measures at schools across the commonwealth," said Secretary Rivera. "The Department of Education thanks the schools that have indicated their interest in stocking naloxone thus far, and we hope that more schools will join the coalition to protect students and their families from the devastating effects of addiction."
Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis said having naloxone on hand in Pennsylvania schools is a smart policy that can save lives.
"We are in the midst of the worst ever overdose death epidemic and the worst public health crisis in the last 100 years," added Secretary Tennis. "Whether someone at school is suffering from addiction or experimenting with an opioid for the first time, we must do all we can to protect and save overdose victims."
The Wolf Administration has made the fight against heroin a top priority. Some of the administration's other initiatives include: signing a statewide standing order for naloxone, making it possible for all Pennsylvanians to access this life-saving drug; equipping the Pennsylvania State Police with naloxone so that those troopers who are first on the scene of an overdose can have another tool on-hand during these emergencies; developing the ABC-MAP prescription drug monitoring program to detect and prevent prescription fraud and abuse, which contribute to addiction; and appointing a director for the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Office, who will work to ensure that the PDMP meets its goal of assisting health care professionals in identifying patients that would benefit from treatment.
Penny Ickes, DOH, 717-787-1783
Jeff Sheridan, 717-783-1116
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health