It is called naloxone–also known by its brand name Narcan–and as assembly bill 1535 (AB 1535) moves one step closer to passing in the California Senate, the drug that medical experts are referring to as the “overdose antidote,” could become widely available over the counter at participating pharmacies throughout California, according to a press release by DrugPolicy.org.
AB 1535, an effort being led by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), received bipartisan and unanimous support a few days ago to pass the legislative measure, which could potentially reduce the numbers of injuries and deaths resulting from opioid overdoses–the most common of which is heroin–by permitting pharmacists to furnish the lifesaving drug naloxone to family members who may be in contact with a person at risk of an opiate overdose, a caretaker or to the patient requesting it.
“As the bill moves on to the Senate, I am optimistic that soon, many more families will be spared from experiencing the loss of their loved ones who struggle with opiate addiction and misuse,” said Bloom.
Bloom’s move comes following the FDA’s recent approval of a simple handheld device that enables users to inject naloxone into a person who is having an overdose. It can be administered intramuscularly via injection–like an EpiPen–or intranasally via a nasal atomizer attached to a syringe.
Naloxone was approved by the FDA in 1971 and, according to DrugPolicy.org, has been used in emergency rooms and ambulances for decades. The site describes it as being generic, non-narcotic, non-abusable and says it works within minutes to restore breathing in people overdosing on opiate drugs such oxycodone, hydrocodone and heroin.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite overdose fatalities as a leading cause of accidental deaths in America, resulting in 38,000 deaths in 2010 alone. According to SFgate.com, the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report credited naloxone with successfully reversing 10,000 drug overdoses over a period of 15 years.