Los Angeles Unified School District is moving toward stocking naloxone, the antidote to the powerful and sometimes deadly opioid fentanyl, at district schools after the recent overdose deaths of several teens, including one girl on a high school campus, the Associated Press reported Friday.
But school districts in Fresno and Clovis already are making sure that naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, is available to school officials, district spokespeople told GV Wire.
Fentanyl has been identified by local health and law enforcement officials as the cause of numerous deaths locally. Street drugs can contain lethal amounts of fentanyl, which can quickly cause unconsciousness and then death, but an injection or spray of naloxone can counteract the opioid’s effect.
AP reported that LA Unified Superintendent Alberto Carvalho called the recent deaths an “urgent crisis” and said doses of naloxone will be provided to all of the district’s 1,400 schools, covering grades kindergarten through 12, in the next few weeks.
Narcan Already at Local Schools
Fresno, Clovis, and Central Unified spokespeople reported that many local schools already have naloxone available.
“We currently have naloxone available at all our secondary school sites,” Diana Diaz, Fresno Unified spokeswoman, said in an email. “Our goal is to work on developing a specific program, based on CDPH (California Department of Public Health) guidelines, that will allow us to obtain enough doses to make it available at all our sites.”
Clovis Unified spokeswoman Kelly Avants said that thus far district employees have not had to use naloxone to prevent an overdose.
“For the past year or more all of our officers have carried Narcan and our nurse’s office at our secondary schools have also stocked it,” Avants said in an email. “We are regularly evaluating if we should distribute it even more widely.”
Naloxone was made available at all of Central Unified campuses last year, spokesman Gilbert Magallon said in an email. “Nurses and administrators have been trained to administer Narcan, but the hope is that they will never have to use it.”
Fentanyl-laced pills can look like Vicodin pain medicine and Xanax anti-anxiety tablets or be mixed with heroin for an extra kick. But because the tablets are designed to look like prescription medicine, users often don’t know they are swallowing fentanyl. And because they are made without any kind of quality control, the amount of fentanyl in each pill can vary widely.