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FDA Announces Over-the-Counter Narcan; Asm. Liz Ortega (D-San Leandro) Looks to Make Narcan Available to All

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO ― As the Federal Drug Administration announced that Naloxone will now be made available over the counter, California Assemblymember Liz Ortega is seeking to remove cost barriers by requiring Medi-Cal and private insurers to cover the life-saving drug.

Earlier this month, Ortega introduced AB 1060. If passed, the law would require Medi-Cal and insurers to cover the cost of Naloxone.

“I applaud the FDA for increasing access to this life-saving drug,” said Ortega (D-San Leandro). “AB 1060 will allow every parent and resident to have Narcan on hand just in case―so we can save lives.”

Fentanyl has become a major public health concern in California and the US, with annual overdose deaths reaching more than 100,000 in 2021, making fentanyl the leading cause of death among 18- to 45-year-olds in the United States.

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times as potent as heroin, which means it takes less to deliver an intense high―but as little as 2mg of the drug can be fatal. This potency, combined with the fact that it is far cheaper to manufacture, has made the drug very popular among drug traffickers looking to deliver a cheap, more addictive high.

As fentanyl has contaminated more and more of the drug supply, public health and law enforcement officials have pointed to a rise in unintentional fentanyl poisonings, as youth are marketed counterfeit prescription drugs through social media apps like SnapChat and Instagram.

Naloxone nasal spray is safe, easy to use, and can reverse an overdose in minutes. But depending on the dosage and source, it can cost upwards of $140 or more.

“Fentanyl is a major public health crisis, and fentanyl poisoning is a threat to our kids. We must do all we can. AB 1060 will give parents, neighbors, and every Californian access to a tool they need to save lives,” said Assemblymember Ortega.

Assemblymember Liz Ortega is a member of the Assembly Committees on Higher Education, Insurance, Labor and Employment, Public Safety and Rules. She represents the 20th Assembly District, encompassing all or a portion of the cities of Hayward, San Leandro, Union City, Dublin, Pleasanton and the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland, Fairview, San Lorenzo, and Castro Valley.