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Fentanyl Deaths Spike in Santa Clara County

News Highlights

  • Overdose deaths involving fentanyl rose from 17 to 41 in May 2023
  • Fake prescription pills are commonly laced with fatal amounts of fentanyl
  • Free Narcan® kits, training available to residents

Santa Clara County — Fentanyl-related overdose deaths for 2023 in Santa Clara County more than doubled at the end of May, with 41 deaths compared to 17 recorded deaths at the end of April 2023.

According to the County of Santa Clara Medical Examiner-Coroner, Dr. Michelle Jorden, “most fentanyl drug deaths in the county involve fentanyl combined with other drugs, including methamphetamine.” County officials continue to warn of fentanyl-laced pills circulating in the community.

The County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department launched a new public awareness campaign earlier this month, targeting young people ages 14-29. The campaign aims to increase awareness and educate the audience about what fentanyl is, its deadly impacts on our communities, the risks of experimental drug use, and how to identify possible fake pills. Visit to learn more about fentanyl and to find resources and support.

“Fentanyl continues to plague Santa Clara County. We all must continue to stay vigilant and ensure our most vulnerable community members are protected from deadly opioids circulating in our region,” said Supervising Deputy District Attorney Edward Liang.

“If someone you know is struggling with addiction issues and needs help, please call us at 800-704-0900 and we will work to support you in getting the help you need,” added Erik Riera, Deputy Director of the Behavioral Health Services Department.

For more information regarding fentanyl and other opioid overdose deaths in Santa Clara County, refer to the Medical Examiner-Coroner data dashboard at
Be aware:
There is a clear danger in taking pills not prescribed to you and not bought from a pharmacy. In 2022, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Laboratory found that six in ten fake prescription pills contained a potentially fatal dose of fentanyl. The County of Santa Clara Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner recorded 161 fentanyl fatalities in Santa Clara County in 2022. 

What you can do:
To reduce the risk of overdose with opioids, the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department offers free Narcan© (naloxone) kits and training on how to use it; we also provide fentanyl test strips to anyone in the community. Naloxone is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose or poisoning. To receive a free kit, call or visit any of the following clinics, Monday through Friday:

Central Valley Clinic
2425 Enborg Lane
San Jose CA
Alexian Health Clinic
2101 Alexian Drive Suite A
San Jose, CA
South County Clinic
90 Highland Ave
San Martin, CA

More information on fentanyl, how to avoid it and many resources to help are available at Treatment support is available by calling the Behavioral Health Services Department’s Call Center at (800) 704-0900.

Available for comment:
Dr. Michelle Jorden, County of Santa Clara Medical Examiner-Coroner, 408-793-1900.
Edward Liang, County of Santa Clara Office of the District Attorney, 408-808-3724.
Erik Riera, County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department, 408-793-6666.
Images from the “FentFacts: Anyone Can Die” campaign are available from Maury Kendall at [email protected].

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About the County of Santa Clara Health System
Santa Clara Valley Healthcare is part of the County of Santa Clara Health System, the second-largest County-owned health and hospital system in California committed to improving the health of the 1.8 million residents of Santa Clara County.  As an integrated health care system, the Health System comprises the Santa Clara Valley Healthcare hospitals and clinics, Behavioral Health Services Department, Public Health Department, Custody Health, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Valley Health Plan.

Media contacts: Maury Kendall, Communications Officer, County of Santa Clara Health System, 408-691-9913; Edward Liang, Supervising Deputy District Attorney, County of Santa Clara Office of the District Attorney, 408-808-3724

Posted: June 20, 2023