Malibu Library to soon stock Narcan


The overdose-reversing drug Narcan, also known by its generic name naloxone, will soon be available at Los Angeles County libraries after a vote this week by the LACO Board of Supervisors. The drug, which comes in a nasal spray, will be distributed to the Malibu Library as well since it is part of the county library system.

Supervisor Janice Hahn brought the motion to the board, she said, because firefighters and other emergency responders often carry the overdose antidote. Hahn said she wanted the resource to be available closer to the community especially since the recent rampant use of opioids in Southern California has seen an uptick of accidental drug overdoses in LACO up 48 percent in 2020. According to an LACO Department of Public Health study the rise in drug deaths from methamphetamine and fentanyl suggests pandemic related drug use has been a significant and tragic outcome.

Skye Patrick, the director of the LACO Library System said, “The goal is to have a supply of Narcan at all 85 county libraries.” Before that happens, however, there are a few steps that need to take place first. After library staff was just alerted to the supervisors’ decision, union workers will meet to learn more about the administration and effects of the drug. They’ll be meeting with other library “partners” such as San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Philadelphia public libraries, who already have a system of Narcan distribution in place.

The LACO library system will then be working with county health officials on how to administer the drug. This is a voluntary step for staff employees. 

“We’ll train everyone who wants to be trained,” Patrick said. “They have to right to administer this life-saving drug or not. Because we have not had an overdose or a fentanyl poisoning at a county library, it wasn’t immediately prioritized, but as Supervisor Hahn mentioned there’s an increase of drug abuse, fentanyl poisoning in our young people, as well as our unhoused. This is the right time for us to do something like this.”

The county librarian said it was her understanding that as a nasal spray, Narcan is simply squirted into a victim’s nostril and it “revives them from an OD.” Naloxone is said to not have ill effects if administered to someone who is not overdosing on drugs other than opioids or fentanyl.

The board will be studying if the county library system can also be used as a distribution site for Narcan. 

“One benefit that we’re looking at is whether or not our county libraries can distribute Narcan for customers,” Patrick said. “Meaning if a parent or guardian comes in and would like to have one of these (vials) at home in case someone in their family overdoses or experiences a fentanyl or opioid poisoning we can distribute it. We’re looking into it.” 

Patrick estimates a system for using the overdose reversal drug won’t be in place until perhaps the beginning of 2023.

In the meantime, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati reminded in a memo this week that fentanyl poisoning and death is on the rise in area youth. There have been two publicized deaths in recent weeks of teenagers in Los Angeles and Riverside. In June, three Santa Monica students recovered after overdosing on fentanyl-laced drugs. And it is a big issue that fentanyl, 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is being surreptitiously added to other drugs such as pills, injectables, and even in marijuana. The person ingesting the fentanyl may not even be aware they are taking it. 

As a precaution each SMMUSD secondary school has been equipped with Narcan since 2018 and more supplies have been ordered.

A scary discovery was also just made this week at Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities seized roughly 12,000 pills believed to contain fentanyl. The pills were being smuggled in candy boxes. Fentanyl pills are easily disguised as colorful candy or pieces of chalk. 

Drati urges parents to speak openly with their children about the serious consequences of drug use and wrote, “One pill can kill.”

The superintendent’s letter also included a 24/7 Mental Health and Substance Use Access and Assessment Hotline (888-818-1115) to get help for a friend or loved one struggling with substance abuse.