Washington School Overdose Reversal Medication Bill Progresses to Governor Inslee

The Washington House and Senate have approved a bill mandating that all public, charter, and select tribal schools in the state have naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses, also known as Narcan.

Senator Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, sponsored Senate Bill 5804, which is now awaiting Governor Jay Inslee’s expected approval, according to Kuderer’s office.

“We all prefer not to be in this situation as a nation, but unfortunately, here we are,” stated Senator Kuderer. She emphasized that the legislation aims at preserving lives.

Washington has witnessed a significant rise in opioid overdose fatalities among young individuals, particularly attributable to fentanyl, an inexpensive and potent drug.

From 2016 to 2022, the rate of opioid-related deaths among adolescents between 14 to 18 years old in Washington surged nearly three times, as reported by the state Department of Health, with fentanyl being a major factor in this escalation.

While current law mandates school districts with more than 2,000 students to have at least one dose of naloxone in each high school, students from Lake Washington High School highlighted during committee hearings that over half of the districts in the state have fewer than 2,000 students.

The group of students mentioned in a statement that they view the bill as a crucial step in safeguarding students from the opioid crisis.

SB 5804 is part of a broader initiative by Washington legislators to address youth opioid abuse and the overall opioid epidemic. In January, the state Department of Health announced plans to distribute free naloxone kits to every high school in Washington.

Representative Mari Leavitt, D-University Place, stressed unity among lawmakers, despite political differences, in tackling the opioid epidemic during a bipartisan press conference.

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