<p>Laura Thomas 415.283.6366<br />
Tony Newman 646-335-5384</p>
SAN FRANCISCO— The Drug Policy Alliance is applauding Southern California supermarket giant Ralphs for being the first chain grocery in California to stock and sell the opiate overdose reversal drug naloxone in their pharmacies without a prescription. All store locations in Southern California will soon make the lifesaving drug available to friends and family members of people at risk of an opiate overdose. Ralphs’ participation is a direct result of the passage of Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s AB 1535, which was co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance and the California Pharmacists Association. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014.
Overdose prevention advocates are elated to see a leader in the retail supermarket space making naloxone so easy and convenient to buy. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to see Ralphs expanding access to naloxone throughout Southern California,” said Laura Thomas, California deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “They worked hard to quickly make naloxone access a reality for thousands of families,” she added.
Accidental drug overdose continues to be the leading cause of accidental death in California, causing more deaths than motor vehicle accidents. Over 44,000 people die of accidental drug overdose every year in the United States and the number of deaths has doubled since 1999. Most of those deaths involve opiates, including prescription pain medications and illicit opiates such as heroin. Naloxone is a very safe and effective antidote to opiate overdose. Overdose prevention advocates including the Drug Policy Alliance are working to ensure that people who use drugs and their family members have access to naloxone to reverse opiate overdoses. This September, CVS became the first major pharmacy chain in California to make naloxone available without a prescription. CVS also expanded non-prescription naloxone access in more than 12 other states.
“As a mom in Southern California, I couldn’t happier or more proud of Ralphs for helping to save lives,” said Denise Cullen, an Orange County mom who lost her son Jeff to a heroin overdose. “I work with parents who lost their kids to opiate overdose. We know better than anyone that having access to naloxone can literally be the difference between life and death for our sons and daughters. The fact that Ralphs so quickly understood the problem and worked to help get naloxone to us is amazing. They deserve a lot of credit,” said Cullen.