Narcan now available on all UW campuses; "We hope we never have to (use it)"

MADISON — The overdose-reversing drug Narcan will be available for use by police on all University of Wisconsin campuses under a partnership announced Wednesday.

Attorney General Brad Schimel joined with UW System President Ray Cross and a representative from Narcan-manufacturer Adapt Pharma to make the announcement. The drug company will make a nasal spray version of Narcan available for free at 10 UW campuses. Narcan is already available under existing partnerships at the other three campuses.

"Of course we never want to use this," Cross said at a news conference in Schimel's Capitol office. "We hope we never have to."

Cross said he's aware of only two people in the past decade on UW campuses who have overdosed from heroin — one a student and the other a community member who was on campus.

He said even though there haven't been many overdoses, it is important to be prepared.

"All of society is seeing a spike. Why would we not expect to see something happen?" he said. "This is a crisis. We are prepared to try and deal with that. One death of student and or a community member or a staff member because of this is one too many."

Initially, Narcan will be available only to security officers, but the hope is that it can soon be put in the hands of student residence hall advisers, Cross said.

Schimel stressed that Narcan is safe to administer to anyone, even if they are not overdosing but are suspected of needing it. Wisconsin law protects anyone who administers Narcan from liability, he said.

The agreement makes Wisconsin the first state in the country where Narcan is available across an entire university system, Schimel said.

"It should be looked upon as a model for the rest of the universities in the nation," said Adapt Pharma spokesman Thom Doddy.

Adapt Pharma said more than 216 colleges and universities in 35 states have participated in the program to make the opiate antidote available for free since it launched in April. The company also said it has distributed approximately 5,550 free doses to high schools in 41 states.