Life-saving antidotes may soon be required at all NJ colleges
Already required to be on hand inside every New Jersey high school, a supply of opioid antidotes would also have to be maintained at public and independent colleges and universities across the state under a proposed law advancing in the state Legislature.
Approved Thursday by an Assembly panel, the measure would require that higher education institutions keep Narcan or a similar product at one or more secure and easily accessible locations on campus. The schools would also be tasked with developing a policy for emergency administration of the antidote to a student, staffer, or other person experiencing an opioid overdose.
"Since the opioid crisis is still with us, and our higher education institutions have some of our most vulnerable populations, it seems to make sense that opioid overdose antidotes should be readily available at our colleges and universities," said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-Essex, sponsor of the measure and chair of the Higher Education Committee.
For traditional college students aged 24 and under, the number of opioid-related deaths doubled between 2005 and 2015 nationwide, Jasey said.
In 2018, through Nov. 30, law enforcement and EMTs across new Jersey reported using naloxone (Narcan) 14,827 times. Overdoses claimed the lives of more than 3,000 New Jerseyans for the first time on record.
The proposed law states a licensed campus medical professional will have the primary responsibility of administering an opioid antidote, but additional employees may be designated and trained as well.
"If a person experiencing an opioid overdose is treated with an antidote quickly enough, it could be life-saving," Jasey said. "By storing proper medication on campuses, campus police or security officers may be able to reach patients faster and administer the antidote."
Jasey's bill amends the Overdose Prevention Act to include institutions and licensed medical professionals on campus among the recipients who may receive prescribed opioid antidotes through a standing order. The bill, as the language currently states, also provides immunity from liability for "good faith" administration of the antidote.
Before getting signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in August, legislation requiring antidotes in New Jersey high schools was approved unanimously by the state Assembly and Senate. The law took effect Dec.1.