New law allows schools to carry overdose reversal drugs
PIERRE, S.D. — It’s now possible for both public and private schools in South Dakota to carry drugs that would reverse an opioid overdose.
Gov. Noem signed the legislation into law this month, with an emergency declaration attached so that it would go into effect immediately.
The bill allows authorized school personnel to possess and administer opioid antagonist such as Naloxone, or any similar drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of an overdose.
It also ensures that authorized personnel go through training on how to recognize overdoses, administer the drugs, respond to adverse effects, and properly store and transport the opioid antagonists.
According to Dianna Miller, a lobbyist for the Large School Group in South Dakota, “It’s unfortunate that this is a reflection of where we are in society. It’s very unfortunate, but we are there. And with the high amount of drug use and overdoses, anytime we can do anything to save one person’s life, we should do it.”
Noem agrees with this sentiment, pointing out that students are also susceptible to the opioid epidemic.
“In recent years, opioids have stolen the lives of hundreds of South Dakotans, and students are not immune,” said Noem. “As we work to educate students on the extreme consequences of opioids, meth, and other drugs, we must also take steps to help those already caught in addiction. This bill allows trained staff at schools to administer an opioid antidote if a student has overdosed, giving them another chance for recovery. If one life is saved as a result of this legislation, it’s worth it.”
Sen. Jim Stalzer, the primary sponsor of the bill says the main question he’s received from schools is how the drugs will be paid for, because the legislation doesn’t specifically allocate any funds.
“The Federal Department of Health has increased their grants from half a billion dollars a year to this year $5 billion, and the Secretary indicates that they do have grant money available,” says Stalzer. “I’ve also been told by some schools that the manufacturer is willing to provide it at no cost. So there’s no money in this bill, because we believe there exists the means to do that.”
The new law doesn’t mandate that schools carry the drugs, but simply permits them to — along with creating procedures for school officials to follow in order to be authorized to use them.