WEST CHESTER (October 14) – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that three high schools in Chester County – Avon Grove High School, Conestoga High School and Oxford Area High School – have been provided with the life-saving, anti-opioid drug Narcan (Naloxone) free of charge under a new state initiative.

“The deadly drug epidemic is robbing our communities of our most precious resource – our young people,” Dinniman said. “This is a major step forward in giving our schools access to the tools they need to save lives, but there is more work ahead.”

Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee and on the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, said he would continue to work to get the life-saving, overdose reversal drug in every school in Pennsylvania.

“The health, well-being, and safety of students is the first responsibility of our schools,” Dinniman said. “Having Narcan in our schools can mean the difference between life and death, but it is not a cure-all. We need to continue to invest in effective drug abuse prevention and education and addiction treatment and recovery programs.”

Avon Grove, Conestoga and Oxford were part of 128 public high schools across the Commonwealth that received the drug free-of-charge through a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Adapt Pharma, a pharmaceutical company based in Radnor. The partnership program is the first of its kind in the nation and will serve as a model for other states.

The high schools, which include charters, intermediate units and career and technical centers, each received two doses of the Narcan nasal spray. In addition, school nurses are trained on how to administer the drug.

Doses are still available for other interested school districts. More information is available here.

While Dinniman called today’s announcement a major step forward, in protecting our students and young people, he said he would continue to work to ensure that every school in Pennsylvania is equipped with Narcan.

“This is a matter of a protecting all our students, including very young children, from the deadly drug epidemic that we are combatting in both Pennsylvania and nationwide,” Dinniman said, citing the case of 7-year-old who brought his grandmother’s heroin to a Coatesville Area School District elementary school in 2014.

“We need to work to get life-saving drugs like Narcan, in all our schools, just as we’re working to get life-saving tools like Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in all our schools,” he said.

Dinniman has been a leader in working to ensure that the life-saving drug is readily available to those who need it. He helped spearhead the effort to pass Act 139 of 2014, legislation that allows police officers, emergency medical responders, and others to carry Naloxone. Next, he cut through red tape to ensure that emergency first responders and EMTs got access to Narcan months ahead of time.

As a result of his work and that of Good Fellowship Ambulance and EMS Training Institute and others, dozens of lives have been saved in Chester County through Project Naloxone. In addition, Project Naloxone has been a statewide model for equipping and training emergency first responders in the administration of Narcan.

Narcan (naloxone) is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose from prescription pain medication or heroin. When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes. Narcan has been used safely by medical professionals for more than 40 years and its only function is to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system in order to prevent death.

Anyone can obtain naloxone by filling a prescription from a health care provider or by using the standing order issued by Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine. The standing order, which serves as a naloxone prescription for anyone in the general public to use, is kept on file at many pharmacies. The standing order can also be downloaded from the Department of Health website.

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