In an effort to provide resources for students affected by opioid abuse, Ohio State is selling naloxone kits at the Wilce Student Health Center pharmacy. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

In an effort to provide resources for students affected by opioid abuse, Ohio State is selling naloxone kits at the Wilce Student Health Center pharmacy.

Naloxone is an opioid antidote used to counteract overdoses in either injection or nasal spray form. The university began selling the overdose reversal kits in September 2016 when the state of Ohio approved them to be sold over the counter.

The kits include the antidote and supporting supplies, and typically cost about $90, depending on a student’s insurance plan.

“Once that started we joined the other pharmacies in Ohio. We feel part of the solution, so we definitely do that for students, faculty and staff,” said Phillip Anderson, the Wilce Student Health Center pharmacy manager.

Anderson said selling the kits has made a positive impact on the Ohio State community, adding that the pharmacy has sold five or six within the past year.

“I think maybe the biggest impact we’ve had is the OSU police department carries it,” Anderson said. “I also know that we’ve sold it to people with family members who are addicted and having [naloxone] probably gives some peace of mind.”

The kits were first introduced to University Police in September 2016 as a proactive measure. All officers received training to use the opioid antidote, but have not needed to use it on campus, Ohio State spokesman Dan Hedman said in an email.

Anderson said awareness and the cost of naloxone kits are currently the largest battles with the initiative, but the student pharmacy is actively working to address the concerns and make the kits more accessible.

“Insurance doesn’t always cover it, so cost could be a problem. We’re looking to see if we can get discounts from the manufacturers and offer a lower cost,” he said.

The pharmacy team also has hung up signs raising awareness about the naloxone kits at the student health center.

Ahmed Hosni is the program manager as Ohio State’s Collegiate Recovery Community, which helps students struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. He said the impact of naloxone kits, although not tangible, has had a noticeably positive impact on campus.

“The impact that I see is that students who have a substance-use disorder are much more willing to ask for help and to be vulnerable when they know their university is there to support them and that they’re not going to be punished for having a disease,” he said.

The exact effects of the naloxone kits might not necessarily be measurable, meaning there is no data on whether someone was directly saved from a kit sold on campus, but Hosni said their presence on campus could allow for those struggling with addiction to seek help.

“It’s going to encourage people not to allow the addiction to cause them to live in the shadows,” he said.

Hosni and Anderson both encourage struggling students to not be afraid to get help by utilizing the university’s resources.

“OSU is forward-thinking. We try to judge [opioid abuse] as a medical issue, not a crime and avoid stigma,” Anderson said.