California Moves to Expand Access to Opioid Antidote

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SACRAMENTO, (AP) — California is moving to expand access to an antidote for opioid overdoses by allowing organizations that may not have a medical director to distribute and administer the drug, state health officials said Friday.

Under a new order from the state health department, groups with syringe exchange programs and other organizations will now be able to access naloxone, which works almost immediately to reverse an opioid overdose, the California Department of Health said.

More than half of U.S. states have similar policies, California Department of Health Director Karen Smith said.

California since 2015 has allowed patients to buy naloxone from a pharmacy without a prescription, but not all pharmacies carry it.

“(Naloxone) has virtually no side effects,” Smith said. “It’s a remarkably safe drug and effective at what it does, which is why we are confident we can provide it without prescriptions and why we’re comfortable having a standing order like this one.”

Interested groups will have to apply online with the health department.

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