In an effort to combat California’s rising rate of drug overdose fatalities, Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) has introduced AB 1535, to greatly expand access to the opiate overdose reversal medicine naloxone at pharmacies throughout the state.
The bill would permit pharmacists to furnish the lifesaving drug to family members; people who may be in contact with a person at risk of an opiate overdose, or to the patient requesting it, pursuant to guidelines to be developed by the state’s boards of pharmacy and medicine.
“California’s overdose crisis remains one of the state’s most serious health problems,” Bloom said. “Pharmacists are highly trained, highly trusted healthcare professionals. This bill makes it easier for them to help prevent a fatal drug overdose.”
Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said making naloxone more widely available would save lives.
“When parents and spouses can quickly and securely purchase the antidote to an opiate overdose at their neighborhood pharmacy, everyone benefits,” Ralston said.
In 2009, more than 3,500 Californians died unnecessarily from an accidental drug overdose.
Research published by the US Centers for Disease Control and other federal health agencies shows that laypersons with naloxone can immediately reverse a potentially fatal overdose in addition to calling paramedics.
Naloxone was approved for use in the 1971 and has been used in emergency rooms and ambulances for decades. It is non-narcotic, non-abusable and works within minutes to restore breathing in people overdosing on opiate drugs such oxycodone, hydrocodone and heroin.
Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.