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Chavez-DeRemer, colleagues introduce legislation to protect students from fentanyl poisoning

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WASHINGTON (KTVZ) – On Thursday's National Opioid Awareness Day, Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05) said she has backed the Fentanyl Awareness for Children and Teens in Schools (FACTS) Act as an original cosponsor.

The bipartisan proposal introduced Thursday, led by Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Kevin Kiley (CA-03), would replicate local education programs that have successfully curbed student deaths from synthetic opioid overdose.

The bill would also develop a federal interagency task force to fight the synthetic opioid crisis through education and prevention and improve federal education and health data collection efforts to understand and highlight the effects of synthetic opioids on youth.

“Social media and other online platforms have made it easier for dealers to sell dangerous counterfeit pills, which are often disguised to look like prescription drugs, to teenagers and young adults. With fentanyl being 100 times more potent than morphine, this has created a serious and deadly problem. I’m honored to support the bipartisan FACTS Act to ensure students and teachers are aware of the danger posed by these fake pills,” Chavez-DeRemer said. 

The FACTS Act was inspired by the Beaverton School District’s Fake and Fatal fentanyl awareness curriculum in Oregon, which has successfully prevented student deaths since its launch. Jon and Jennifer Epstein, who lost their son Cal to fentanyl poisoning when he mistakenly took a fake pill, have been instrumental in creating the curriculum and advocating for its expansion.

This bipartisan proposal:

  • Creates a pilot grant program at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for partnerships between local or state educational agencies (LEAs or SEAs), local or state public health agencies, and nonprofit organizations to provide education, awareness, and prevention regarding the misuse of synthetic opioids;
  • Convenes an interagency task force led by the Secretaries of HHS and Education (ED) to coordinate and improve federal responses to synthetic opioid overdose and misuse in youth. The task force will also include officials from HHS, ED, and subagencies within each respective agency; parents of youth who died from an overdose of fentanyl or another synthetic opioid; and representatives from national nonprofit organizations working to raise awareness about and prevent misuse of synthetic opioids by youth;
  • Makes amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to provide professional development for school personnel regarding synthetic opioid misuse and overdose, and make amendments to LEA and SEA plans required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to describe how they will engage teachers, school leaders, parents, and other entities to address and prevent the misuse of synthetic opioids by youth;
  • Makes amendments to key federal education data collection efforts, including the Civil Rights Data Collection and the National Center for Education Statistics’ School Crime and Safety Data, to identify the prevalence of synthetic opioids in public secondary schools and disciplinary outcomes for students using or in possession of synthetic opioids in public secondary schools;
  • Allows school-based health centers to use their funding for Naloxone to increase the availability and accessibility of a critical overdose reversal drug in school settings; and
  • Makes amendments to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future Survey, and conducts an evaluation of the effectiveness and reach of the CDC’s State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Barney Lerten

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