California Lawmaker Seeks to Make Drug Overdose Antidote More Accessible

California Lawmaker Seeks to Make Drug Overdose Antidote More Accessible
A firefighter displays Narcan, a lifesaving medication used to reverse opioid overdoses, on Feb. 26, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Vanessa Serna

State Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highland) has introduced a proposal that would create a pilot program to teach participants—such as mothers, fathers, and friends, for example—how to administer the lifesaving treatment naloxone during an opioid overdose.

“The loved ones of those who have fallen to fentanyl want to know we are doing all we can to end this plague,” Ramos said in a statement about Assembly Bill 1627. “Families repeatedly told me we must do all we can to prevent fentanyl sales that are made easier through social media and to stop deaths from fentanyl overdoses.”

Naloxone is a Food and Drug Administration-approved medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The antidote can be either injected or given as a nasal spray. It quickly works to restore breathing in those who have opioids—such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine—in their system.

The training is to be offered by local behavioral health departments and local county sheriff’s departments. Officials will show participants how to contact appropriate medical services, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and administer the antidote.

The Victims of Illicit Drugs—an organization formed to bring awareness of drug overdoses—as well as the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department supports the bill, claiming it will help parents and others keep “children” safe.

Additionally, the bill proposes to investigate overdose causes and criminal activity.

If approved, funding for the program would likely come from the California 2016 Budget Act, which requires local health departments and government agencies to receive funding for programs that provide naloxone to first responders and at-risk opioid users.

In California, 5,502 deaths related to an opioid overdose were recorded in 2020, according to the California Department of Public Health.

If approved, the program would be effective until 2025 in the counties of San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange.

The bill, which has already been approved by multiple Assembly committees, will be heard by the Assembly’s Communication Committee at a date to be determined.