New Bill Requires Medi-Cal and Private Insurers to cover OTC Naloxone
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Liz Ortega (D-Hayward) has announced a bold step forward in the fight against Fentanyl overdoses in California.
Following a unanimous vote by federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisors recommending making Naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, available over-the-counter (OTC), Assemblymember Ortega announced AB 1060, which would require Medi-Cal and private insurers to cover over-the-counter (OTC) Naloxone, upon FDA approval.
“As a mom, I think about the danger of fentanyl to my kids every day,” said Assemblymember Liz Ortega. “It only takes 2 milligrams―smaller than a grain of rice―to end a life. Naloxone saves lives―but only if you can afford it. I’m introducing this bill so that every parent, family member, or guardian can have access to this life-saving drug and protect their kids.”
According to the CDC, in the U.S., more than 150 people per day die of an overdose from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids―or more than one life lost per 10 minutes. Additionally, there were nearly 6,000 fentanyl overdose deaths in California in 2021, 800 of which were individuals ages 24 and under.
Currently, Naloxone is only available and covered by insurers and Medi-Cal if it is prescribed by a physician. Last week, two panels of addiction experts that advise the FDA unanimously voted for Naloxone to be made available OTC. The FDA is expected to make an official decision soon. However, making Naloxone available OTC isn’t enough, it must also be affordable for it to actually save lives.
AB 1060 is a crucial step forward in the effort to support those struggling with opioid addiction and to prevent further fentanyl-related deaths in California.