Santa Clara County sees nearly 60% rise in fentanyl-related deaths in May

Santa Clara County health officials say there was an alarming spike in fentanyl-related deaths last month. There was a nearly 60% increase in those deaths and the County says fentanyl-laced prescription pills are the likely to blame. 

In the month of May alone, there were 24 more fentanyl-related deaths than the month before. Now law enforcement and health officials say people still need to stay on high alert for fentanyl-laced pills on the streets.  

"Particularly when we’re talking about fake prescriptions drugs and M30 pills. These are these light blue pills with M on the front and 30 on the back," said Edward Liang, Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy D.A. 

Supervising Deputy D.A. Edward Liang says M30 pills and other fentanyl-laced drugs are most likely responsible for the latest spike in deaths in Santa Clara County. Last month, deaths rose from 17 in April, to 41 in May. 

"In fact, the statistics from the D.A. says that about 60% of these pills have potentially a fatal amount of fentanyl. That’s why we’re very concerned just how common it is now, and it’s one of the main reasons for the significant that we’ve seen in the number of deaths from April to May just this year," Liang said.  

Santa County’s Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Michelle Jorden also says that "most fentanyl drug deaths in the county involve fentanyl combined with other drugs, including methamphetamine."

Santa Clara County’s Behavioral Health Services Dept. offers free Narcan kits, which can help prevent an overdose. The dept. also launched a public awareness campaign at earlier this month, targeting young people ages 14-29. Health officials hope to spread the word and educate people about what fentanyl is and its deadly impact on the community. 

"It’s something where it’s so easy to mass produce, and it’s really just a business expense for drug traffickers ultimately. Yes people die, but there’s also more and more people who are getting addicted. It’s incredibly addictive, right? So they’re increasing the number of buyers that they have, even if they’re losing a number of them to these deaths," Liang said.   

The County is also trying to raise awareness about the risks of experimenting with drugs not given by a doctor, and how to identify fake pills. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, call 800-704-0900 or go to Santa Clara County’s website for information on how to get help.