Iowa public schools are now allowed to stock Narcan, also known as Naloxone, the drug that when administered may be able to reverse an overdose.
Ben Miskle, a professor in the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, is hosting educational sessions with district nurses in both the Iowa City and Clear Creek Amana school districts to discuss the potentially life-saving medication. He notes, opioid overdose deaths are increasing nationally, locally, and in adolescents.
“There’s a big push right now to understand that we don’t always plan for a fire, but most people have a fire extinguisher. We hope it never gets used, but if it does, we’re prepared,” Miskle says. “That’s kind of the way that we’re approaching Narcan in schools. We hopefully never have to use it, but in case we do need it, we hope that it’s there.”
Iowa school boards need to create a policy, then go through the Iowa Department of Public Health to obtain their Narcan kits.
“Kind of the problem with that is that not everybody is necessarily great at writing policy or is an expert at writing policy,” Miskle says. “So sometimes they need a little bit of help in getting that done, or maybe they’re not as comfortable with how to actually administer the medication, so then filling in some of those gaps with education can be really helpful.”
Miskle is holding the educational sessions as a community service initiative along with a colleague, Heidi Wood, a clinical pharmacy specialist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He says they’re also meeting with individual school nurses, teachers, staff and anyone else to familiarize themselves with the drug — and their options.
“Both of our spouses actually work for school districts across Iowa,” Miskle says. “Knowing that we just need Naloxone out there, Narcan out there to help prevent overdoses, it’s definitely something that we just want everybody to be safe and all of our communities to be safe and working in health care, I think we both see that need.”
The UI aims to expand the project throughout the state and is asking UI College of Pharmacy alumni to provide needed education to school nurses.