Friday, June 23, 2023

AMA Backs Making Overdose Reversal Medications More Accessible in Schools

The American Medical Association (AMA) is encouraging states, communities, and schools to adopt policies that allow naloxone and other overdose reversal medications to be readily accessible to teachers and school staff. Additionally, the AMA is urging states, communities, and schools to “remove barriers to students carrying safe and effective overdose medications.”

The policy was sponsored by the AMA Section Council on Psychiatry, which includes delegates from APA, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.

Psychiatric News was in Chicago last week for the Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates—which brings together physicians, residents, and medical students from across the country and a variety of medical specialties. A report of the House of Delegates discussion regarding overdose reversal medications was published today in Psychiatric News.

“We are facing a national overdose crisis, and it’s affecting our young people at an alarming rate. Just as students carry prescription inhalers to treat an asthma attack, we must destigmatize substance use disorders and treat naloxone as a lifesaving tool,” Bobby Mukkamala, M.D., chair of the AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force, said in an AMA press release.

Speaking on behalf of the AMA Section Council on Psychiatry on the floor of the House, Warren Ng, M.D., president of AACAP, said that allowing students to carry overdose reversal medications can be lifesaving. He cited a 2022 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that among youth aged 10 to 19 years old, overdose deaths increased 109% between July 2019 and December 2021. For many of these deaths, there were people nearby who might have been able to intervene had they had access to lifesaving medication, Ng said.

“The AMA needs to support school districts that are trying to save students’ lives right now,” Ng told the delegates at the meeting.  

Kenneth Certa, M.D., an APA delegate to the section council, told Psychiatric News that the adopted resolution “will embolden school boards to make this change so students will not die on school campuses because no one has the necessary medication to keep them alive until EMS gets there.”

Jerry Halverson, M.D., chair of the Section Council on Psychiatry, said the successful passage of the resolution speaks to the effectiveness of the psychiatric delegation at the AMA. “This resolution was produced by psychiatry, and it took the psychiatrists in the House working together to educate other delegates,” he said. “Now we have a policy that will allow school districts to do something that will save lives.”

Complete coverage of the House of Delegates meeting will appear in the August issue of Psychiatric News

(Image: iStock/TW Farlow)


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