Kentucky education and drug control officials are working with a pharmaceutical company that is offering two free doses of Narcan nasal spray for the emergency treatment of heroin and opioid overdose to every high school in the United States.
For now, Fayette County Public School officials are declining the offer.
“Based on our data, we do not have a need for this resource at this time,” district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.
Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said school districts in the state can decide whether to take the free doses offered by the pharmaceutical company Adapt Pharma, based in Ireland with U.S. offices. Narcan is a brand of naloxone, a heroin and opioid antidote.
Ingram said his office has not reached out to any school districts yet, but decided last week to serve as the “middleman” between the pharmaceutical company and school districts who wanted the free doses of the antidote. He said he will be working with the Kentucky Department of Education.
“We hope to roll it out this summer and into the fall,” Ingram said.
Ingram said training will accompany the distribution of the antidote.
“If it can save lives and it doesn’t cost the school’s anything, I think it’s a good program,” Ingram said. “Because it’s not just students who are on school property.”
He said parents and people attending school functions could potentially benefit too.
“This opioid epidemic spans all demographics, all age groups, economic groups, races. Could be anybody on your school property,” who would have an overdose, said Ingram.
Kentucky is the second state that has agreed to help facilitate the company’s offer on a statewide basis to school districts who want it, said Thom Duddy, AdaptPharma executive director of communications. Schools in Pennsylvania, where AdaptPharma has its U.S. headquarters,received 675 free doses, Duddy said.
After receiving the free doses, schools can purchase kits at $75 each, the company’s public interest price that is offered to government officials, Duddy said.
Schools are a focal point in the community, Duddy said. He said the donation of the naloxone product starts a conversation about “recognizing an opioid overdose” and “who is at risk” for an overdose.