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California lawmakers consider plan to cap Naloxone cost at $10

SACRAMENTO – Amid the ongoing fentanyl crisis, the California legislature is considering an East Bay lawmaker's proposal to cap the cost of overdose-reversing drug naloxone to $10 or less.

Assembly Bill 1060 by Asm. Liz Ortega would require MediCal and private insurers to cover the cost of over the counter naloxone, also known as Narcan.

The proposal comes as pharmacies across the country begin offering the medication over the counter, following a decision made by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year. Major pharmacies, including CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens, are selling naloxone for $45 for two doses, according to their websites

"Making Narcan available without a prescription makes sense and will save lives―but only if you can afford it," Ortega said in a statement. "No parent should lose a child because they couldn't afford a high pharmacy bill. California can be a leader here. By keeping the cost of this life-saving drug at $10 or less, my bill will empower thousands of parents, families, and community members to protect their loved ones should the worst happen."

Fentanyl deaths continue to be on the rise in the Bay Area and across the country. In San Francisco, a preliminary report from the Medical Examiner's office found at least 346 accidental overdose deaths in the city during the first five months of 2023, a spike of more than 40% compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile in Santa Clara County, there were 41 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in May alone. By comparison, the coroner's office recorded 161 fentanyl fatalities in all of 2022.

The bill, which has passed through the Assembly, will be considered by the State Senate in the next two weeks, Ortega's office said Tuesday.

This story was written by KPIX.

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