Despite claims from media outlets and Chelsea Clinton implying the contrary, a program to distribute free NARCAN to American high schools and colleges is not an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, according to a Tuesday interview with Mike Kelly, president of U.S. operations for NARCAN distributor Adapt Pharma.
President Donald Trump delivered a major address on Monday announcing his administration's new strategy to combat the opioid epidemic. Trump was at one point joined on stage by Kelly, representing the company that produces and distributes NARCAN nasal spray, which can reverse opioid overdoses in more than 90 percent of cases.
Trump highlighted Adapt Pharma's charitable work providing NARCAN to high schools, colleges, and universities throughout the United States, calling it "amazing" and "generous." Adapt announced an expansion of its "Free NARCAN for Schools" program on Monday, doubling the number of free cartons available to high schools, and eliminating the cap on the total number of free cartons available to universities.
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On Twitter, HuffPost senior political reporter Emily Singer, watching Trump's speech, claimed the initiative Trump had just celebrated was actually the work of the Clinton foundation.
Trump highlighted a Clinton Foundation initiative in his opioid speech. Cannot even make it up. https://t.co/09Q5Wluzf8
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) March 19, 2018
Clinton daughter and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton picked up Singer's tweet, adding her own jab at Trump to it:
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 19, 2018
A number of major news outlets commented on the seeming gaffe, with Newsweek calling Adapt's program a "Clinton Foundation Project," CNN referring to it as a "Clinton Foundation Program," and Mic, for which Singer writes, saying it is "a Clinton Foundation initiative." The Clinton Foundation also tweeted about it, although it referred to its relationship to Adapt as a "partnership."
While it is true that Adapt has partnered with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, a project of the Clinton Foundation, headlines claiming that Adapt's Free NARCAN for Schools program is a Clinton Foundation project stretch the truth substantially. In an interview with the Free Beacon, Adapt executive Kelly made clear that the Clinton Foundation does not fund or do any of the work involved with distributing NARCAN to schools.
"They don't purchase the product, they don't distribute the product," Kelly explained.
In a subsequent statement to the Free Beacon, Kelly explained that the Adapt Pharma "Free NARCAN® for Schools Program" is "a program solely funded and operationalized only by Adapt Pharma."
"Adapt does not have any financial relationships with any political organization. While Adapt Pharma initially announced our Free Narcan for Schools program in collaboration with the Clinton Foundation at the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, we were honored to participate in President Trump's Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse on Monday and announce our commitment to substantially expanding our Free Narcan for Schools program," Kelly added.
Rather, the Clinton Foundation has mostly been a platform to help publicize Adapt's independent charitable efforts. Kelly said the Clinton Foundation has "a phenomenal platform that can expand awareness," and it's that platform that Adapt has taken advantage of in its collaboration with the Foundation.
Based on press releases to which both Adapt and the Clinton Foundation referred the Free Beacon, this platform has come mostly in the form of public partnership without resource commitments.
In January of 2016, Adapt announced its initial NARCAN distribution program as an implementation of a previously announced partnership with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative. In April of 2017, Adapt expanded that program, in a joint announcement with President Bill Clinton at the sixth annual Clinton Health Matters Activation Summit, which is administered by the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.
The Health Matters Initiative was also a partner to Adapt in a 2016 program to distribute NARCAN to community partners, but did not provide funding or distribution support to that project, according to Adapt. It did help select the recipients of Adapt's donation.
The Clinton Foundation did not respond to a request for further specifics on its partnership with Adapt, referring the Free Beacon only to the aforementioned releases.
The Clinton Foundation added "we have an ongoing partnership with Adapt to make NARCAN available at no cost to all high schools, colleges, and universities in the United States" in a statement to the Free Beacon.
Kelly made clear that he considers the NARCAN donation program non-political, and does not take sides in any political disagreement between the Clintons and President Trump.
"We're politically agnostic. We have not contributed to any political party, and we don't want to work that way. We have a product that treats a disease that has no political bounds," Kelly said.