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New state bill would require Narcan in public spaces to avert overdose deaths

Narcan instructions as displayed in The Standard’s photo studio on Dec. 9, 2022. | Mike Kuba/The Standard

San Francisco Assemblymember Matt Haney is introducing legislation to require opioid blocker nasal sprays to be made available in public spaces for use in treating drug overdoses.

The law would require that naloxone, best known by its trademark Narcan, be made available to workers in gas stations, bars, libraries and single-room-occupancy hotels, in a manner similar to first aid kits and fire extinguishers.

The medication would be made available by the state Department of Public Health, along with posters with instructions on how to identify a drug overdose, at no charge. Failure to make Narcan available in a place open to all employees would draw up to $1,000 fines.

“If fentanyl continues to be cheaper and more accessible than opioid blockers we’re going to keep seeing an increase in overdose deaths,” Haney said in a press release. “Until we can cut off the source of fentanyl, we have a responsibility to make sure the only effective first aid response is always there when it's needed.”

In San Francisco, implementation of AB 24 would enhance the availability of free Narcan from the Community Behavioral Health Services Pharmacy and other nonprofit service providers, as well by mail as from the nonprofit End Overdose. Narcan is also covered by most insurance including Medi-Cal and is available in pharmacies across the region.

Assemblymember Haney represents the eastside of San Francisco, and is former supervisor from District 6, which formerly included the Tenderloin, where he lives. The Tenderloin is considered to be the center of the city’s overdose crisis.

AB24 would ensure that Narcan would be available immediately at public locations where overdoses could occur.

Over the past year, over 2,500 overdose reversals have been performed by first responders using Narcan across the city, including an incident in a Marina District park where a 10-month-old child reportedly ingested fentanyl last month.

This does not include instances where Narcan has been administered by private parties, which are estimated at over 4,000, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Watch: When and How to Administer Narcan

David Sjostedt contributed additional reporting for this story.