The Los Angeles Police Department is expanding a program to supply officers with thousands of doses of a nasal spray to treat overdose victims, it was reported Friday.
Last year, the LAPD launched a pilot program to train and equip officers to administer naloxone, which blocks the effects of an opioid overdose. More than 6,100 officers now carry the drug sold under the brand name Narcan. Other officers are expected to receive training, the Los Angeles Times reported.
So far, officers have saved 15 people’s lives with the drug, but it did not work in two other cases, Deputy Chief Dominic Choi said. This week, the Police Commission approved the department’s request to accept a $750,600 donation from the California Health and Human Services Agency to pay for 10,008 doses.
“The officers know it’s helpful,” said Choi, who until recently served as the LAPD’s homeless coordinator. “This is really an effort by the department to help people.”
Officers have dispensed the drug to overdose victims living on the streets, including in downtown Los Angeles’ skid row, and those in homes needing emergency treatment, Choi said.
Mark Casanova, executive director of Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, said the LAPD move is significant and that he was unaware the department had used the spray to save lives.
Reports of opioid-related deaths have increased across the nation in the last several years, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
In 2017, the year in which the most recent data are available, Los Angeles County recorded 447 deaths due to all opioid-related overdoses, according to the California Department of Public Health. In total, California recorded 2,194 of the deaths that year, record show.
The push to make naloxone more accessible follows then-Gov. Jerry Brown signing a law in 2014 that allowed pharmacists to provide the drug without a prescription.
The state provided thousands of the nasal sprays to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in 2017.
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