New law will make antidote to narcotic overdoses easier to get

SAN DIEGO -- In the war against prescription opioid overdoses, a new tool is being rolled out by the state of California.

The drug Narcan, also known as Naloxane, acts as an antidote to opioids when someone is overdosing and on the verge of death.

“Quite simply, it restores breathing,” said Thom Duddly the vice president of Adapt Pharma, the company that manufactures Narcan.

Because of new legislation signed earlier this month by Gov. Jerry Brown, Narcan will be co-prescribed with opioids that are potent enough to  present a danger of overdose. The law takes effect on  January 1, 2019.

“You don’t need an individualized prescription.  You can walk in and ask the pharmacist for Narcan, and they’ll provide you with some education,” Duddly said.

Narcan is a simple nasal spray that can be administered by anyone. The most important thing is for non-medical people to identify who may need the life-saving drug during an overdose crisis. Duddly said the symptoms are pretty dramatic.

“Shallow breathing and they are gurgling even. Pinpoint pupils, blue on their fingers -- they start turning blue,” he said.

When you see those signs, it’s time to get the Narcan out and administer it to the patient.

More than 1,800 people overdosed in California last year. Duddly said he hopes with this new legislation that number will start to drop.