San Diego Has 6,600 Doses of a Life-Saving Drug. Why Can’t They Use It?

San Diego County has 6,600 doses of a life-saving drug that can reverse the deadly effects of an opioid overdose. But, as Voice of San Diego reports, the county says bureaucratic red tape and paperwork has prevented people from using it.

The county has had the cache of Naxalone since December, thanks to a state grant program passed by the Legislature in 2016. Without the ability to distribute it, however, the cache is as good as bricks.

“We want it to go out as soon as possible,” said Sayone Thihalolipavan, a public health officer for San Diego County’s Health & Human Services Agency. “We’re just plugging and chugging along and continuing to work with these groups and help them check off these boxes before we can hand it out.”

He told the Voice of San Diego that the groups seeking access to the drug must have medical authorizations, a set of rules and procedures in place, and meet various other requirements before they can get their hands on the drug. That has unfortunately slowed the process down.

Orange County has had much better luck distributing the 3,109 boxes of Narcan it received in December. After receiving the doses, it immediately handed them to a nonprofit called The Solace Foundation. The group hit the streets after receiving the doses and began handing them out to people at risk of an overdose.

“It’s unbelievable that it’s just sitting somewhere,” said that foundation’s head Aimee Dukle of the situation in San Diego. “That’s absolutely outrageous. People die while that’s just sitting there.”

There is still Naxalone on San Diego’s streets. Thihalolipavan said the Sheriff’s Department has done a good job at distributing its doses to those in need. And it’s just one part of the equation, he noted. Changes are also taking place to better assist those addicted to drugs and alcohol. These include greater funding for substance abuse treatment which was recently approved by the Board of Supervisors.

As for those in the throws of an overdose, they need the Naxalone.


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