In a collaborative effort with one of the country’s largest health-focused foundations, the developer of NARCAN nasal spray, a medicine used to reverse opioid overdoses, is being distributed to colleges across the United States at no cost to the institutions.
And given the current opioid epidemic that’s ravaging the country, it’s sure to be a powerful force in fighting opioid abuse.
NARCAN Being Distributed for Free to Universities Across the Country
A recent press release distributed by Adapt Pharma states that the they are currently expanding their efforts to make NARCAN nasal spray even more widely available to the public than before. In fact, they are currently accepting applications from any accredited college in the U.S. for up to four free cartons of this life saving product.
The program is the result of a collaboration between NARCAN developer Adapt Pharma and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative created by former President Bill Clinton. The two first began working to make NARCAN freely available with their Free NARCAN Nasal Spray for High Schools Program which has already given out around 3,300 free doses to high schools in 33 different states.
The new program, however, is one of much larger scale. Adapt Pharma plans to distribute a whopping 20,000 cartons (40,000 doses) of NARCAN to universities, marking an exponential increase in scope compared to the prior program.
Benefits of the NARCAN Nasal Spray Program
NARCAN is the only FDA-approved nasal spray containing the drug naloxone. This powerful drug has been shown to be incredibly effective when it comes to reversing the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose.
Naloxone is technically classified as an opioid antagonist. These types of substances can be thought of as a kind of plug – when they get into the brain they attach to our opioid receptors and block or reverse the effects of opioid agonists like heroin and oxycodone. What’s more, the drug doesn’t have any effect at all if opioids aren’t in the system.
While it is also used in addiction recovery medications like Suboxone, this drug is particularly beneficial when it comes to treating opioid overdoses. The antagonist characteristics help to restore healthy levels of respiration and can give an individual more time to seek immediate medical treatment.
When it comes to NARCAN nasal spray itself, this form of naloxone is especially beneficial due to its ease of administering the drug. As of now, there are only three FDA-approved formulations of naloxone: an injectable form, an autoinjectable form, and the prepackaged nasal spray (of which NARCAN is the only one on the market currently).
And while the other two forms can be just as instrumental in saving someone’s life during an opioid overdose, NARCAN is the most accessible. The injectable form, for example, should only be administered by a trained medical professional. Although the autoinjectable form sold under the name EVZIO makes it easier for anyone to provide a life-saving injection, the price has recently made the product financially prohibitive for many.
NARCAN, on the other hand, is a low-cost alternative that requires absolutely no medical training to administer. Individuals need simply to place the nozzle into the affected person’s nostrils and press the plunger firmly to deliver the medicine. It’s both cheap and simple to use.
NARCAN and the College World
Given all of these benefits, it’s no wonder that colleges all over the country are thrilled to submit their applications for this powerful drug.
What’s more, recent surveys have shown that college-aged individuals are at an even higher risk of not just abusing opioids, but also not knowing where to go in the case of an opioid-related emergency.
In a 2015 survey conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, researchers found that an alarming 16% of college-aged youths had used prescription pain pills illicitly. What’s more, that number rises up to 22.5% for individuals who participated in intercollegiate sports.
While these statistics may sound surprisingly high, they’re actually on par with those of the overall opioid epidemic that’s spreading across the country. In fact, 2016 marked the first year that opioid overdose deaths outnumbered both gun related deaths and deaths resulting from auto accidents.
When it comes to college-aged individuals though, many don’t quite understand the risks associated with abusing this particularly dangerous drug. The Hazelden survey, for example, also found that while almost one third of survey participants reported that they knew of someone who had overdosed on prescription pain medications, more than 37% said they would have no idea what to do or where to go in the case of an overdose.
When combining these statistics with the fact that college is traditionally a time where risk-seeking behaviors increase dramatically, it’s clear that this population is in particular danger of abusing and possibly dying from opioids.
That’s why it’s so important for university staff to have direct access to medication that’s both effective at reversing an opioid overdose and can be administered without any formal medical training. In fact, naloxone has been used by non-medical personnel to reverse over 26,000 overdoses between the years 1996 and 2014 already.
And now that NARCAN is becoming so widely available at no cost to institutions, it’s likely the number of lives saved will rise even more.
NARCAN Nasal Spray: A Powerful Force in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse
The massive NARCAN distribution efforts of Adapt Pharma and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative is an enormous development in combating the ever-growing opioid epidemic.
With more access to these new measures, countless lives are likely to be saved from the clutches of opioid abuse.
Adapt Pharma (2017, April). Adapt pharma Expands Free NARCAN Nasal Spray Program to U.S. Colleges and Universities. Retrieved from http://adaptpharma.com/adapt_press_release/april-10-2017-adapt-pharma-expands-free-narcan-nasal-spray-program-to-us-colleges-and-universities/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017 April). Opioid Overdose. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/index.html
Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation (2015 June). Survey Finds Risky Opioid Use Among College-Age Youth, With Limited Knowledge of the Danger or Where to Get Help. Retrieved from http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/about-us/news-media/press-release/2015-opioid-use-among-college-youth
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2015 Nov.). NARCAN Nasal Spray: Life-Saving Science at NIDA. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2015/11/narcan-nasal-spray-life-saving-science-nida
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016 Sep.). Overdose Reversal with Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/opioid-overdose-reversal-naloxone-narcan-evzio
Svrluga, Susan (2017 April). Colleges Can Get Free Doses of Naloxone for Students Overdosing on Heroin and Other Opioids. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/04/10/colleges-can-get-free-doses-of-naloxone-for-students-overdosing-on-heroin-and-other-opioids/?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.a58a58afb46a