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Assemblymember Liz Ortega thanks Governor Newsom for delivering on low-cost naloxone commitment

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO — On Friday, Assemblymember Liz Ortega (D-San Leandro) thanked Governor Newsom for taking quick action on his commitment to make affordable naloxone available to Californians through the CalRX program, issuing the following statement:

“On Feb 22nd of last year, I introduced AB 1060, in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s Feb. 15th recommendation that naloxone be made available over the counter. On March 18, the Governor announced plans to manufacture low-cost naloxone through its CalRX. On Sept. 21st, the legislature sent AB 1060 to the Governor’s desk. In his Oct. 7th veto message, the Governor expressed a shared commitment to increasing access to affordable naloxone for Californians. Yesterday, the Governor announced that the CalRX Naloxone Access Initiative is on track to make low-cost Naloxone available to Californians by this summer.

“I want to thank the Governor for fulfilling his commitment to saving lives by preventing more overdose deaths. I give Governor Newsom credit for getting us to where we all wanted to go.”

On February 15, 2023, an FDA panel recommended that naloxone be approved for over-the-counter (OTC) sales. However, public health experts warned that the drug’s high price point would limit access. To address that concern, Asm. Ortega introduced AB 1060, which would have capped out-of-pocket costs for OTC naloxone at $10 by requiring MediCal and private insurers to cover the drug.

A month later, Governor Newsom announced that the CalRX program, a state initiative to manufacture cheaper alternatives to the three most popular insulin medications under a state label, would also include a cheaper naloxone nasal spray. In a budget subcommittee hearing Thursday, Newsom administration official Vishaal Pegany, deputy director of the Office of Health Care Affordability, gave an update on the program’s progress, testifying that CalRX would have a contract in place to provide low-cost naloxone to Californians by this summer.

Naloxone is a safe and easy-to-administer drug that can reverse a fentanyl overdose within minutes. The focus on expanding access to naloxone was spurred by a sharp increase in fentanyl and synthetic opioid overdoses, with US overdose deaths exceeding 100,000 in 2021. Drugstores began selling naloxone over the counter last summer at $44.99―a price point that many public health said put it out of reach for many.

Assemblymember Ortega can be available for press today at 12:30pm. For press availability, contact M.V. Watson at (210) 667-5046 (text preferred.)


Assemblymember Liz Ortega is Chair of the Assembly Committee on Labor & Employment and sits on the Assembly Committees on Budget, Insurance, Human Services and Privacy and Consumer Protection. 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.