SACRAMENTO – The California Assembly today gave final legislative approval to Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s AB 635, a bill to expand the use of the life-saving drug naloxone. Long used in hospital emergency rooms, naloxone can be administered to a person suffering from an opiate overdose and can restore breathing that had been suppressed by the overdose. The bill, approved with broad bipartisan support, facilitates the drug’s use outside hospitals.
“This is simply about saving lives,” said Ammiano. “We’re taking a practice that was a proven success in counties where there was a pilot program and expanding it statewide. No one should die because of an addiction to prescription painkillers. This gives us a chance to save and change lives.”
The bill was passed at an opportune time, just a week after International Overdose Awareness Day. Experts say overdose is now the biggest single cause of accidental deaths.
“Good Samaritan and naloxone access laws are important first steps in tackling the overdose problem,” said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. Ammiano’s Good Samaritan bill became law this year, and AB 635 is a major effort to make sure the drug is accessible where it can help.
The bill removes certain obstacles, enabling doctors and health professionals to prescribe naloxone or participate in overdose prevention programs that prescribe opioid antagonists, such as naloxone. These drugs reverse the effects of opiates and opioids such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and heroin. When administered in pilot programs, the drug saved hundreds of lives.
The bill will be prepared for presentation to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Oct. 13 to sign the bill.
CONTACT: Carlos Alcalá, Communications Director, (916) 319-2017