SF could soon mandate that overdose reversal drug Narcan be stocked in all pharmacies

Bay City News
Thursday, June 29, 2023
SF could soon mandate that Narcan be stocked in all pharmacies
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San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey wants to require retail pharmacies in the city to carry overdose reversal medication Narcan.

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey wants to require retail pharmacies in the city to carry overdose reversal medication.

The legislation introduced Tuesday comes as Narcan, a naloxone nasal spray, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to become readily available over the counter in the coming months.

If passed, Dorsey's ordinance would require retail pharmacies to stock at least two boxes of overdose reversal medication before and after it is available for over-the-counter sale. Pharmacies would have a three-day grace period to reorder two boxes, or else pay $250 to $1000 in penalties.

RELATED: FDA approves 1st over-the-counter version of opioid overdose antidote Narcan | Here's what it means

Currently, California pharmacists are permitted to sell Narcan or other naloxone products to any customer who requests them. But a March 2023 FDA study found that of the 16.95 million doses of naloxone distributed in 2021, only 2.64 million doses were distributed by retail pharmacies.

Dorsey said he hopes wider availability of the life-saving drug could prevent the escalating rate of fatal drug overdoses in the city. He said that though many San Francisco pharmacies have naloxone, requiring a mandate for all will "maximize its availability and help save lives."

He said he hopes the ordinance could serve as a blueprint for other states and municipalities also experiencing overdose crises of their own.

"Even with Narcan set for over-the-counter sales later this year, we know that some retailers' hesitation to engage consumers around illicit drug use is preventing the market from facilitating what should be universal access," Dorsey said. "Nationwide, retail pharmacies account for only a fraction of naloxone doses, and even San Francisco pharmacies have fallen short in random 'secret shopper' surveys."

MORE: New law requires community colleges and CSUs to distribute Narcan at school health centers

Perry Han, Regional Vice President of Walgreens, said that the company believes preventing opioid overdoses is a "shared responsibility amongst all public health stakeholders."

"Access to Naloxone is essential and that's why Walgreens carries this life-saving drug in all of our San Francisco pharmacies. We applaud Supervisor Dorsey for his work to increase access throughout San Francisco," said Han.

Wendy Gutshall, Public and Government Affairs Director at Safeway, said that the company already stocks naloxone in its pharmacies.

"We want to give our customers the choice to purchase this potentially life-saving drug," Gutshall said.

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