Santa Clarita had a 2-1 ratio of people to opioid prescriptions in the last year, but had a 1-2,700 ratio for anti-overdose drugs to opioid prescriptions, according to data recently released by drug experts.
Out of a population of 181,972, Santa Clarita had 99,832 opioid prescriptions in the last year, which representatives of pharmaceutical company Adapt Pharma said is not unusual for Southern California.
Of those prescriptions, naloxone, the ingredient for anti-overdose drugs, was prescribed 37 times, which equates to about 2,700 opioids per naloxone prescription, said Thom Duddy, Adapt Pharma’s vice president of corporate communications.
Adapt Pharma is a manufacturer of Narcan, the brand name for the naloxone anti-overdose drug. Adapt Pharma gathers data nationwide through a network of prescription providers, Duddy said.
The company is touring California to talk about new state legislation that passed this month that orders doctors to begin prescribing Narcan with opioids.
“Overall there’s a lot of opioid use, and the new law is helping with the epidemic by protecting people from taking prescriptions with high risk,” Duddy said. “We think it’s illicit drug users doing it illegally on the streets, when really we need to be helping people who also get these legal prescriptions.”
Assembly Bill 2760, which was signed into law on Sept. 17, requires that, for certain categories of high-risk patients, prescribers must offer a co-prescription for naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses.
In Santa Clarita, Narcan is already with every law enforcement officer as a standard procedure for dealing with opioid overdoses, but that isn’t the case nationwide, said Cary Quashen, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s executive director of behavioral health and the director of Action Family Counseling.
Quashen sees many opioid addicts who are addicted to legal drugs, or began using illegal narcotics such as heroin after starting with opioids. He said Narcan has an instant effect when a user begins to overdose.
“Quite a few people in our treatment centers have been ‘Narcan’d’ back to life,” he said. “They overdosed, but Narcan brought them back.
“The only thing that’s a little scary is addicts can get braver because they have it on them,” he said. “It can be a false sense of security, but it’s still a lifesaver and I’ve seen many people here in Santa Clarita whose lives are better because of that drug.”
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies are trained in the use of Narcan as part of a program through the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The SCV was moved to the top of the program’s list in 2017.
“But in recent years, we have people who have no track record of fooling around with alcohol or marijuana, but are now addicted to pain meds from some sort of surgery,” Quashen said. “They go from one an hour to 20 pills a day, and they’re in just as much danger of overdosing.
“We have to teach people about the dangers of drugs,” he said. “Every house should have Narcan, because anything we can do to save a life is worth doing.”