PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The opioid crisis takes many forms and hits so many different people. Schools increasingly have access to Narcan, which can save someone’s life during an opioid overdose.
Kelly Sloop is not only a licensed pharmacist, she’s also a school board member in West Linn-Wilsonville. She said she will prescribe the drug to any school or district who wants it. And Direct Relief is a 501C3 non-profit that will provide Narcan to schools.
A Direct Relief representative said they’ve provided 104 doses of Narcan to 5 districts: Hillsboro, West Linn-Wilsonville, Multnomah Education Service District, Beaverton and Sherwood. They also have applications pending for 4 more.
In both Sherwood and West Linn-Wilsonville, every school at every grade level has Narcan. Beaverton, Hillsboro and MESD have it at the middle and high schools.
As of April, all high schools in the Portland Public School district carry Narcan. Officials said they recognize the life-saving possibilty and feel safer having it, even though they hope they don’t have to use it.
Elementary, middle and high schools can have 2 doses each, college can recieve 4 free doses.
“I want to protect our youth, especially with the fentanyl being basically laced in any counterfeit pill that is, you know, being passed off as oxycontin or Xanax or Adderall or anything that they are thinking is a prescription pill, but it’s actually counterfeit,” Sloop said. “So I said I will be the authorizing prescriber for any school that wants to have market ease. This is exciting.”
Before this, Sloop said getting the life-saving drug in some schools was difficult. Unless the district had a prescribing physician they had no one to get the prescription.
Insurance will cover the cost of Narcan in some Oregon cases. In Oregon, a prescription is needed to get Narcan, but in Washington state anyone can get one from a pharmacist.
And anyone in Oregon can administer a dose of Narcan to save a life. A Good Samaritan law protects someone administering Narcan without repercussions. Another bill passed in 2019, Oregon Senate Bill 665, provides immunity for trained personnel to administer it.
Sloop said being able to provide Narcan to middle and elementary schools is a big deal because it’s not just students who can fall victim to an accidental overdose. Teachers and school staff are susceptible, too, as are a spectator at a football game, a guest at the school. She hopes schools aren’t intimidated by the process and that the stigma can be erased, which would let everyone work together to curb the opioid epidemic.
“By having Narcan right there at the school would make a difference between saving a life, not saving a life or having some permanent disabilities or damage,” she said. Fentanyl is the Number 1 cause of death in 18-40 year olds, she said, more than car accidents, cancers and COVID.
“I think it’s just important and I think everybody should be carrying Narcan. You can go into a pharmacy and a pharmacist can write a prescription for you,” she said.