LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Unified School District will provide all of its schools with a drug capable of reversing opioid overdoses, after at least seven teenagers overdosed on pills likely laced with fentanyl in recent years. weeks, including a 15-year-old girl who died on a high school campus.
“We have an urgent crisis on our hands,” District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said at a press conference Thursday.
Carvalho said doses of naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, will be provided to all K-12 schools in the coming weeks – around 1,400 schools in total. The county public health department will provide the drugs free of charge.
The nation’s second-largest school district will also launch an education campaign that includes parent outreach and “peer-to-peer” counseling to warn students about the dangers of fentanyl.
Police said at least seven teenagers had overdosed in the past month after taking pills believed to contain fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The drug is often mixed with illicit pills designed to look like prescription painkillers or other medications.
The most recent overdose occurred on Saturday and police are investigating whether the pills were linked to Melanie Ramos’ fatal September 13 overdose in the bathroom at Bernstein High School in Hollywood. The school was open that evening for football and volleyball matches, authorities said.
She and a classmate bought a pill containing fentanyl from another youngster, believing it to be the prescription painkiller Percocet, then took the drug on campus and passed out, the Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore at the city’s police commission.
Earlier in the day, paramedics responded to separate calls reporting possible overdoses of two teenagers in the Lexington Park area, less than half a mile (0.8 km) from Bernstein High and a group of other schools. The teenagers are believed to have been students in the schools.
Last week, police arrested two boys, aged 15 and 16, in connection with Ramos’ death and other drug deals in the area. The young boy was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, police said.
However, Moore said the teenagers were “just pawns that are used by adults and by drug trafficking organizations,” and authorities were trying to find the supplier.
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