CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – State Senator Sandy Senn is working to ensure that lifesaving overdose reversal methods are widely available on college campuses using state funding.

Narcan is the common name for the emergency drug overdose reversal and is now available in school nurse kits across the state thanks to a bill passed in 2023. Senn is looking to take the accessibility one step further.

“My son is a freshman at Carolina this year. So when I went to his parent’s weekend and realized that in looking through their material field they only had Narcan available in one place, and then they subsequently moved it also to the Wellness Center, but those places are not open 24 hours a day,” Senn says. “And I felt like they needed to be on in every single dorm it needed to be there at the front desk or maybe even with every RA.”

Throughout the fall, Senn sent letters to university presidents and police chiefs across the state asking for their dedication to a plan for saturating the campus with the resource.

“That would include technical schools and I asked them to please make this available. I explained the dangers and why we need these things, how they can get them they can be reimbursed I’ll be willing to help them obviously, even if they’re not in my district,” Senn says.

She says this cause is personal. Among her friends, she knows three people who have lost their children to accidental overdoses.

“What is really scaring me about college campuses especially here when they’re taking exams is the amount of fake pills out there,” Senn says. “Students may be able to get what they think is Adderall to stay up and study. And unfortunately, those pills look just like the real thing, but they’re made with pill presses. And what they’re getting is fentanyl and without the ability to have that Narcan or Naloxone whatever the brand they want to use anytime then we can see loss of life.”

She says when EMS is called, even if the response is fast, it’s often too late. On the other hand, naloxone nasal spray can be administered fast and by anyone after a few seconds of instructions. Senn is advocating for the purchase of a $250 ‘ONEbox’ that can be placed across campuses in a variety of buildings.

“These are boxes that can actually train it’s like a little few-second video, and it’s DAODAS that is demanding the training even though I think that it’s so simple, I don’t know why there has to be a lot of training, but these are boxes that you can hit play, and it will tell you how to administer the Narcan which again is the squirt up the nose, and then this can be accessed at any time, even at night,” Senn says.

She hopes that the leaders of universities take this call to heart, especially since they can get reimbursed by the state. Senn was one of the lawyers that helped set up the state’s opioid fund and there is a legislative board that governs the money.

“It’s a lot of money and we can help get these colleges, universities, even bars and restaurants anywhere that you think that you may come into someone who may be suffering from some type of fentanyl poisoning,” Senn says. “They really need to have these boxes readily accessible. They cost about $250 We can get the Naloxone free. It just requires a few little steps but we can get you there. And I just think we need to saturate our area we need to saturate anywhere that young people are.”

Senn says USC has already told her about ONEbox purchases they are making, the College of Charleston responded to her letter with their own plan for naloxone accessibility on campus, and she is in close contact with the Clemson University Chief of Police about their programs.

“All of these things may seem counterintuitive because you don’t want people to think oh, well, I can just overdose and then this is going to wake me up. It certainly may not,” Senn says. “But if you are accidentally poisoned or for whatever reason you take a pill that did not come from the pharmacy that looks like a normal pill that people would take and it turns out not to be I certainly don’t want it to be a death sentence.”

Senn hopes to start with universities and move on to getting naloxone in private businesses that want it as well. She says the state drug fund can reimburse any entity that reaches out with a plan for getting training and supplies to keep people safe.