Haney’s AB 663 allows mobile pharmacies that travel to neighborhoods that are hard hit by the fentanyl epidemic and disperse medications that treat opioid addiction
- Nate Allbee
- (415) 756-0561
Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Matt Haney’s (D-San Francisco) legislation allowing mobile pharmacies to dispense medications used to treat opioid addiction has been signed by Governor Newsom. AB 663 had previously passed out of the State’s legislature with bipartisan support.
AB 663 will help local efforts to address the opioid crisis, prevent overdose deaths, and further improve access to healthcare for the city’s most vulnerable patients. While deaths are often the most visible manifestation of the overdose crisis, hundreds of thousands of people in California suffer from opioid use disorder, often referred to as opioid addiction. This illness is often defined by withdrawal symptoms, intense cravings, and risky behaviors that can put one’s health and safety at risk.
Medications like buprenorphine have been shown to reduce the mortality rate among people addicted to opioids by at least half. Nearly 80% of Americans with opioid addiction do not receive buprenorphine or other medication-assisted treatment. In California, buprenorphine was the least available, only 31% of pharmacies carried it.
“Expanding opioid addiction treatment to mobile pharmacies and increasing widespread access will be key towards enrolling more people in treatment and recovery. Mobilizing medication assisted treatment to bring people life-saving medication is a gamechanger towards addressing the opioid epidemic, ” said Assemblymember Haney, Chair of the Select Committee on Fentanyl and Overdose Prevention. “It needs to be easier to gain access to treatment, not harder.”
Opioid use disorder, like other chronic medical conditions, can be effectively treated. Two FDA-approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder, buprenorphine and naltrexone, can be prescribed in outpatient clinics and dispensed by retail pharmacies. Although access to these medications has improved over the past several years, there continue to be significant barriers to treatment. One challenge that clinical outreach teams face is providing these medications in a location that is accessible to people experiencing homelessness.
“To prevent overdose deaths and to provide health care services for people struggling with addiction we have to meet people where they are with solutions that will get them on a path to recovery,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “AB 663 will help us to equip mobile pharmacies with life saving medication-assisted treatments, like buprenorphine, so we can bring treatment to those who need it most, especially San Franciscans experiencing homelessness.”
Mobile pharmacies that can provide medications to treat opioid use disorder will complement other public health interventions to address unintentional overdose deaths. Expanding access to medications to treat opioid use disorder is part of the City’s Overdose Prevention Plan, which aims to reduce fentanyl and other drug-related deaths, increase access to treatment for opioid use disorder (including addiction to fentanyl) and stimulant use disorder, increase social support for and reduce the stigma experienced by people at risk of overdose, and improve the community conditions in which drug use occurs.