L.A. County libraries could soon supply naloxone for reversing overdoses by distributing the drug to its overdose-reversing overdose “first responders” in some 1,500 locations in the county, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said Wednesday.
An announcement on the county’s website suggests the program is expected to begin in late summer. And while some questions remain about whether the approach will be sustainable, officials also said the program is intended to help save lives and reduce the number of overdoses by trained first responders and law enforcement in the county.
“We have a responsibility to save lives,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said. “If we don’t save lives, we’ve failed.”
Naloxone is a drug used to reverse the effects of an person who has had a drug overdose when it enters his body through his or her mouth. In some overdose cases, people using the drug try to kill themselves by breathing deeply or by swallowing too much. Instead, naloxone works by blocking the respiratory effects of the poison that are leaving the body.
So far, there aren’t any reports of people using the drug intentionally to kill themselves.
“We have not observed anyone,” McDonnell said. “We’ve certainly heard of people experiencing an overdose on naloxone, but we don’t have one documented.”
But there have been two documented accidental doses. In the first, a person overdosed on naloxone and died, said John Scott, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. In the second, a person overdosed on naloxone and survived.
People overdose on naloxone less than three per cent of the time, Scott said. If this approach worked as intended, there could be thousands of naloxone overdoses averted each year, Scott said.
The drug also reverses the toxic effects of some other drugs including alcohol, benzodiazepines and opioids, Scott said, which is why the agency is also offering a supervised consumption program to help people who are experiencing an alcohol overdose.
There’s also another naloxone program going on right now, he said, but in that case, the agency’s