Maine Pursues Plan to Stock Schools With Overdose Antidote Drug

Maine’s governor wants the state’s schools to have Naloxone.

A program drafted by Gov. Janet Mills would place Naloxone, the drug which counteracts the effects of opioid overdoses, in Maine middle schools and high schools.

The law would not make Naloxone a requirement under the law but instead simply make it available for schools that believe it to be a necessity.

“It wouldn’t mandate that they have it,” said Gordon Smith, Maine’s Director of Opioid Response, a Mills appointee.

Smith says the program allowing Maine schools to have Naloxone would look much like ones in a dozen other U.S. states.

If needed, school nurses would be the primary people responsible for administering the drug.

Grace Leavitt, the president of the Maine Education Association, a professional organization which represents many teachers in the state, says that could be a problem for some rural schools which do not have full-time school nurses.

Leavitt also wants to make sure teachers could voluntarily elect to be trained on Naloxone administration.

“We’ve got to focus on teaching,” she said.

Smith believes the teachers would not be put under duress and said current Maine law and regulations prohibit teachers from administering all drugs to students except Epinephrine, the drug used to curtail allergic reactions caused by insect bites or stings and certain foods.

“Teachers can’t give medication to kids without a special law being passed,” said Smith.

Both Smith and the Maine Education Association want to see Maine’s total number of opioid deaths, which reached 418 in 2017, go down. Since the Naloxone would not be limited to student overdoses, it could save the lives of any adult in a school that supplies it as well.

“If this could save somebody’s life, we should try to do it,” said Leavitt.

Governor Mills’ opioid team is hoping to have an actionable plan to get schools Naloxone within the year. Their target is this coming fall.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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