Bill to Require Naloxone Overdose Spray in Workplace First-Aid Kits Passes California Assembly

Bill to Require Naloxone Overdose Spray in Workplace First-Aid Kits Passes California Assembly

The overdose-reversal drug Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, is displayed during training for employees in Philadelphia, Pa., on Dec. 4, 2018. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

5/30/2024

Updated: 5/30/2024

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A California bill to require that workplace first aid kits include naloxone nasal spray, used to reverse deadly opioid overdoses, is quickly making its way through the Legislature.
Assembly Bill 1976 has strong bipartisan support and is now under consideration in the state Senate after passing an Assembly vote on May 22.
Assemblyman Matt Haney, who chairs the Assembly’s Fentanyl and Opioid Overdose Prevention Committee, authored the bill after hearing from hundreds of family members whose loved ones died of drug overdoses, he said in a statement Tuesday.
“If fentanyl continues to be more accessible than naloxone, we’re going to keep seeing an increase in overdose deaths in our communities,” Mr. Haney said in a press release. “Until we can cut off the supply of fentanyl to our state, we have a responsibility to make sure that we’re saving as many lives as possible—especially the lives of our youth.”
Naloxone nasal spray is used in the emergency treatment of opioid overdose patients to quickly reverse the life-threatening effects of narcotics. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an over-the-counter naloxone nasal spray in March 2023.
More than half of the counterfeit prescription pills trafficked in the United States in 2022 contained potentially deadly doses of fentanyl, according to a public safety alert published by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“These pills are being mass-produced by the Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco cartel in Mexico,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram in the alert.
The pills are made to look identical to real prescription medications, including OxyContin, Percocet, and Xanax, according to the DEA.
Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat in the U.S., DEA reported. The highly addictive synthetic opioid is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Just 2 milligrams of fentanyl—an amount that can fit on the tip of a pencil--is considered a deadly dose.
In 2022, the latest data available, nearly 6,500 people died of fentanyl overdoses in California and about 21,300 emergency department visits involved an opioid overdose, according to the California Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, a state operated website reporting overdose deaths.
All California businesses with employees are required to have a first-aid kit in the breakroom or common space. Mr. Haney’s bill would require the inclusion of naloxone nasal spray in the kits.
The bill would also require that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) develop standards and enforcement practices to ensure the nasal spray is in all first-aid kits.
“I’ve heard from hundreds of family members whose loved ones would still be alive if naloxone had been on site,” Mr. Haney said in a statement. “Naloxone is a miracle drug in many ways. But it can’t perform miracles if it’s not there when you need it.”
If the bill is passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, California would be the first state to mandate the inclusion of naloxone nasal spray in workplace first aid kits, according to Mr. Haney.
A coalition of construction contractors associations, including the Construction Employers’ Association, opposes AB 1976 and seeks to be exempt, saying the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) is the appropriate agency to determine if a mandate for naloxone is warranted. The board is currently considering petitioning the National Safety Council for a similar mandate, according to a legislative analysis.
The coalition also says current guidelines say naloxone should be stored at a certain temperature--between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit--which may not be feasible on most construction sites.
Another bill by Mr. Haney related to opioid addiction treatment—Assembly Bill 2115—passed out of the Assembly’s Health Committee May 22, also with bipartisan support.
Among removing other treatment hurdles, AB 2115 would expand access to methadone in the state, allowing doctors to dispense up to 72 hours’ worth of take-home doses of the synthetic drug used in the treatment of morphine and heroin addiction.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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