Orange County opioid death rate reaches 10-year high

May 16, 2016

IN THE NEWS:  The number of fatal drug overdoses in Orange County has soared to a 10-year high. According to the coroner’s office, more than two-thirds of last year’s 286 cases involved opioids, making Orange County’s opioid death rate one of the highest in the state – 17th out of 58 counties.

“We have a community at risk,” Dr. Padma Gulur, director UC Irvine Health Pain Management Services, tells the Orange County Register. “It’s so concerning.”

Gulur is leading a new coalition of health insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, hospitals and public health agencies that is working to find solutions to the problem, such as encouraging physicians to scale back the amount of opioids they prescribe and recognize the signs of addiction. The Safe Rx OC initiative also recommends increasing access to naloxone, a fast-acting opioid overdose-reversal medicine.

“Naloxone saves lives; it just does,” Gulur said. “Looking at the data from the coroner’s office, these are preventable deaths.”

Read the Orange County Register story ›

Learn more about UC Irvine Health Pain Management Services ›

Demystifying pain: Experts at the Center for Pain Management get to the root of the problem ›

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