Drug Policy Alliance

Great News from California: Anti-Opioid Drug Naloxone To Be Available At Pharmacies Without Prescription

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Great news snuck out of Gov. Jerry Brown's office in California last week, as discussed in a press release from the Drug Policy Alliance, who worked for this result.

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assemblymember Richard Bloom's pharmacy naloxone bill (AB 1535), which will permit pharmacists to furnish the opiate overdose reversal medicine naloxone hydrochloride upon request. Previously, naloxone was available only by prescription from a healthcare provider or from a handful of naloxone distribution programs throughout the state. The bill, sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance and the California Pharmacists Association, was strongly supported by health and drug treatment organizations, as well as parents' groups….

The new law will permit pharmacists to furnish the life-saving 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. It also ensures education and training for both the pharmacist and the consumer.

"Lives can be lost in the minutes waiting for an officer or an ambulance to arrive with naloxone.  This makes it much easier for caregivers and family members to keep naloxone on hand for use in those critical moments," said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager of the Drug Policy Alliance.  "Expanding pharmacy access to naloxone in California reflects the movement nationally to make naloxone more widely available," she added.

While full-on unrestricted over the counter availability would be ideal, for California and the nation at large, this is a great advance in access to this definitively life-saving substance for California. 

I blogged about the drug's lifesaving importance last year. It can, if administered even during an ongoing opiate overdose, reverse the effect and save lives.