Spanberger Helps Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Kids from Overdose Deaths in Virginia Schools

May 12, 2023
Healthcare
Press

The “School Access to Naloxone Act” Would Expand Federal Grant Eligibility to Help Schools Access & Administer Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger helped introduce bipartisan legislation to expand the availability of naloxone — also known as Narcan or Evzio ­— in schools across Virginia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of fentanyl overdose deaths has surged 279 percent since 2016. Additionally, the number of adolescent overdose deaths in the United States has more than doubled since 2019. Naloxone is a FDA-approved, over-the-counter medication that can reverse most opioid overdoses — whether the result of a prescription drug or synthetic opioid, like fentanyl. In Virginia, fentanyl contributes to more than three-quarters of overdose deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The Spanberger-backed School Access to Naloxone Act — modeled after the 2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act which supported the rollout of EpiPens nationwide — would incentivize the stocking of naloxone and training of staff on its safe administration in schools across the country.

“As a parent, I am deeply concerned about the opioid crisis — particularly fentanyl — making its way into our school classrooms, cafeterias, and hallways,” said Spanberger. “Tackling the overdose crisis and saving lives requires concrete action to stop the flow of illicit drugs into our communities, support treatment and recovery programs, and equip Virginians to respond in emergency situations. As more children and teenagers are losing their lives to overdose, providing schools with the means necessary to revive a child or teenager who has suffered an overdose is an inexpensive and proven way to protect Virginia students.”

Specifically, the School Access to Naloxone Act would expand eligibility under the Grants to Prevent Prescription Drug/Opioid Overdose-Related Deaths (PDO) program administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — which currently distributes naloxone to first responders and provides trainings on overdose prevention — to provide new funding opportunities specifically directed at providing schools with support to access and administer naloxone. Grants would be available for states, localities, or districts that require schools to stock naloxone, staff to be trained on its administration, and civil liability protection for trained personnel who administer naloxone in a school setting.

The bipartisan legislation is led by U.S. Representatives Dean Phillips (D-MN-03) and Dave Joyce (R-OH-14).

Click here to read the full bill text.

BACKGROUND

Spanberger has consistently worked to tackle the opioid epidemic and substance abuse crisis, support recovery services, and block illicit and deadly drugs from making it into Virginia’s communities, including:

  • Strengthening Virginia’s addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services. In December 2022, President Biden signed into law Spanberger’s bipartisan Summer Barrow Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Act, which provides $900 million of support for programs that combat substance use disorder and addiction in the Commonwealth and across the country.
  • Cracking down on fentanyl trafficking at America’s borders and ports of entry. In December 2022, the President signed into law Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation — the Securing America’s Borders Against Fentanyl Act — to strengthen America’s response to fentanyl coming through the nation’s borders and ports of entry.
  • Giving our law enforcement officers the tools and training they need. And this week, Spanberger introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to provide state and local law enforcement with new devices to detect and identify dangerous drugs — including fentanyl. Earlier this year, she reintroduced her bipartisan legislation to crack down on narcotics traffickers who are using illicit pill presses to manufacture counterfeit drugs.

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