By Lookout Staff
January 29, 2014 -- Santa Monica’s State Assembly representative Richard Bloom introduced legislation last week that makes anti-overdose meds available over the counter.
If Bloom’s bill, AB 1535, is signed into law, it would make naloxone hydrochloride available at California’s pharmacies, increasing access to the drug used in emergency rooms to treat patients who have overdosed on opiates.
“California’s overdose crisis remains one of the state’s most serious health problems,” said Bloom. “Pharmacists are highly trained, highly trusted healthcare professionals. This bill makes it easier for them to help prevent a fatal drug overdose.”
According to Bloom’s office, more than 3,500 Californians died from an accidental drug overdose in 2009.
Naloxone “is non-narcotic, non-abusable and works within minutes to restore breathing in people overdosing on opiate drugs such oxycodone, hydrocodone and heroin,” said Bloom’s office.
It has been widely used in emergency rooms and ambulances since it was approved in 1971, his office said.
The Bill was applauded by Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.
“When parents and spouses can quickly and securely purchase the antidote to an opiate overdose at their neighborhood pharmacy, everyone benefits,” Ralston said.
Jon R. Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, also celebrated the bill.
“We applaud Assemblymember Bloom for his proactive approach to reducing deaths and injuries resulting from opioid overdoses,” he said. “Pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers and AB 1535 will make it easier for them to furnish this life-saving drug to patients who need it.”
Organizations for parents and family members of drug addicts also applauded the bill.
“As a mother of two sons who struggle with addictive illness, one of whom almost died of an accidental overdose, I feel that it is my right and responsibility to have naloxone readily available in my medicine cabinet, because every moment counts in saving a precious life,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman, founder of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing).
Denise Cullen, co-founder of GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) said, “This expansion of access to naloxone will be an incredible lifesaver for those families going through what mine did for 12 years with a child struggling with substance use disorder.
“Putting naloxone in the hands of those who need it most as quickly as possible will be a positive, proactive step toward ending this epidemic. We lost our son to an overdose. No California family should ever have to endure that preventable tragedy,” she said.