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Paramus Lawmaker Pushes Bid For Mandatory Heroin Antidote In NJ Schools

NJ State Assemblyman Joseph Lagana
NJ State Assemblyman Joseph Lagana Photo Credit: Lagana photo: COURTESY Joseph Lagana / INSET: COURTESY Adapt Pharma

PARAMUS, N.J. -- All New Jersey schools would be required to keep Narcan on hand to administer to students or staffers who overdose on opiates, if a bill co-sponsored by a legislator from Paramus who represents Bergen and Passaic counties becomes law.

“In the same way that schools are prepared to deal with life-threatening incidents like allergic reactions and cardiac arrest, they also should be equipped to deal with overdoses,” Assemblyman Joseph Lagana said after the state Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced the measure on Tuesday.

“We have a means of saving children’s lives," said Lagana, who vice-chairs the committee, "and there’s no excuse for failure to employ it.”

The Senate Education committee forwarded a similar bill to the full state Senate in January.

If made law, the measure would require high schools to maintain a supply of naloxone hydrochloride, such as Narcan or a similar opioid antidote, and permit the school nurse to administer the antidote to an overdosing student or staff member.

Several districts -- including Ridgewood's -- already have Narcan available in their nurses' offices. Allendale's planned to begin next month .

The bill would require that all schools in the state have the drug on hand during regular classroom hours and for school-sponsored functions that take place on school grounds.

Any school nurse or trained employee who acts in good faith to administer the opioid antidote to a student or staff member would also be free of any liability, under the bill.

It would amend the state “Overdose Prevention Act” to include schools, school districts and school nurses among the recipients that may obtain the opioid antidote through a standing order.

The school nurse will have primary responsibility, under the proposal. However, school officials can designate additional employees who volunteer to administer an opioid antidote when the nurse isn't there.

The New Jersey Department of Education would be responsible for establishing use guidelines and training requirements.

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