Assemblymember Matt Haney is proposing a bill that would require bars, gas stations, libraries and SROs to stock the opioid overdose reversal medication Narcan, though that state would pay for the supply.
The “opioid antagonist medication” Naloxone is better known by its brand name Narcan, and in this era of skyrocketing opioid overdoses, has proven itself an effective and easy-to-use nasal spray to reverse opioid overdoses. The medication has easily saved hundreds of lives here in San Francisco and probably thousands statewide as the deadly drug fentanyl is now being laced into other forms of drugs, causing many fentanyl overdoses among people who’d not even chosen to use fentanyl. And these overdoses include entirely accidental exposure, like the case of a baby that ingested fentanyl in the Marina last month (the baby was saved when administered Narcan).
So now the Chronicle reports that today, state Assemblymember Matt Haney is introducing a bill to require that Narcan be stocked at bars, gas stations, libraries and SROs. The bill would require that a naloxone (Narcan) kit be on display, with an accompanied set of instructions.
“We have a tool that can save lives, and it should be everywhere. The crisis is here now. People are dying now,” Haney told the Chronicle. (He happens to serve as the chair of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Fentanyl, Overdose Prevention & Opioids). “We’re going to see a lot more deaths unless we do something dramatic,” Haney said, adding, “Every prediction I’ve seen is that this is going to get worse.”
If the bill passes, the Narcan kits would not be required statewide. According to the full text of the bill, the Narcan kits would be required only in counties designated as experiencing an "opioid overdose crisis." Those county designations have not even been assigned, though it’s a fair bet that designation would apply to San Francisco.
Bars and SROs certainly make sense as places to have Narcan kits, and many already do. But… gas stations and libraries? Yes, as according to the Chronicle those are the locations “where health experts tell [Haney] overdoses are most likely to occur.” Haney also reached out to SFist and added that Los Angeles County is already stocking Narcan in libraries, and pointed to a recent academic study showing that 14% of libraries "had experienced an on-site drug overdose."
If the bill were to pass, failure to put the kits with instruction in those designated locations would be a misdemeanor that carries a $1,000 fine.
But in Haney’s current version of the bill, the state would pay for the Narcan kits, so there would be no cost to the business. Still, the Chron pegs the cost of a two-dose box of Narcan at $47.50. That’s going to add up! It seems that state should be able to negotiate a better price if they’re buying tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of boxes. And that may be an area Haney where needs to work to win over skeptics who will balk at this proposal’s high dollar-value cost, regardless of its potential to save lives.
Note: This post has been updated with additional comments from Assemblymember Matt Haney.