Schools would carry anti-overdose drugs under new bills

Michael Gerstein The Detroit News

Lansing — A state Senate panel approved legislation Tuesday to stock Michigan schools with an opioid overdose antidote in case of student drug overdoses amid a nationwide epidemic.

The Senate Health Policy Committee voted in favor of legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, and Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida. Supporters say it would help fight drug overdoses that have swept the state and nation and make students and schools safer.

“Saving lives must be our ultimate goal as we tackle this epidemic on all fronts, including prevention, treatment and enforcement,” Ananich said in a statement.

Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Ananich to his task force on opioid abuse, which recommended expanding access to the drug, commonly called naloxone, in a report last year.

The two-bill package would also allow school boards to require that at least two school district employees be trained to administer the drug in a district that carries the drug, and make sure school workers call 911 if they think a student is overdosing, according to the legislation.

The number of opioid overdoses — which includes heroin overdoses — has nearly quadrupled since 1999, state statistics show.

Ananich’s office says seven other states have passed similar legislation: Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

It would cost schools in Michigan an extra $165,000 to $200,000 a year, according to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis. The analysis said a single dose of naloxone costs between $42 and $45, and notes that schools would also have to pay the cost of training employees to administer the drug, a cost “currently unknown.”

Schools may also face new costs for reporting to administration any cases of a student being given the opioid antagonist, the analysis notes.

The bills were introduced Tuesday and now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Twitter: @MikeGerstein