TN Bill would Allow Anti-Opioid Overdose Drug to be Carried, Used in Schools
A drug used to reverse the effects of a drug overdose may soon be coming to classrooms across Tennessee.
The life-saving drug, Naloxone, is carried by many law enforcement agencies in our region. Now, a new bill, making its way through the Tennessee state legislature, may allow it in schools.
The bill would require the state's Board of Education to set up guidelines for Naloxone in schools. From there, each school system would decide if it wants to carry the anti-overdose drug.
"I mean it's really a tool that's just as handy as AEDs, and Epipens," Regional Medical Director for the Tennessee Department of Health, Dr. David Kirschke said.
Dr. Kirschke also noted that Naloxone training is also now a part of CPR training guidelines, set by the American Heart Association.
Now some state legislators want to see the life-saving drug in schools.
News 5 talked to leaders at Carter County schools on the phone, who said they haven't seen this problem yet. They also wonder how much it will cost to equip and train schools. Specifically they wanted to know who would be allowed to administer the drug, saying that could affect costs.
I looked at the financial report for this bill. It states, each school would be given two doses of Naloxone. Each dose costs around $91 and lasts for two years.
There are 1,485 public elementary and middle schools in Tennessee. If every one of those signed up, it would cost the state $270,270 to fund for two years.
There are 348 high schools in the Volunteer State. Each of those would be able to get the drug for free through a national program.
"The manufacturer of the name brand Narcan nasal spray has offered to put it in any high school in the country for free," Dr. Kirschke said.
The bill authorizes school nurses, school resource officers and other trained personnel to use the drug. Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition director, Jillian Reece, said they can offer that training for free.
"Anytime we can save a life and have Naloxone in the right places, we think it's a benefit," Reece said.
The bill was unanimously approved by the state Senate in March. It's up for a vote in the House on Thursday.
News 5 also talked to the director of Elizabethton City Schools on the phone. He said they are waiting to see if the bill passes. Then they will decide where to go from there.
But they are already trying to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic in the region. They are planning to have a community forum for parents, this summer.
The Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition is holding two free Naloxone trainings at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.