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San Francisco jail visitors can now get free Narcan

An inmate clasps his hands on the door of his cell at the now closed County Jail 4 in the Hall of Justice in San Francisco on Nov. 1, 2018. | Gabrielle Lurie/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco’s health department is now stocking a city jail with free overdose reversal medication and fentanyl test strips for visitors.  

The Department of Public Health announced the new initiative on Wednesday, sharing a picture on Twitter of a cabinet filled with Narcan nasal sprays at a jail on Seventh Street in SoMa.

The announcement comes in the wake of a recent push to arrest and jail people who are suspected of being under the influence of drugs in public. Between May 30 and June 18, law enforcement officers booked 42 people into jail under suspicion of public intoxication, but none accepted treatment upon release. 

The city is grappling with a staggering overdose crisis that’s claimed the lives of over 400 people in the first six months of this year, according to preliminary data from the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. 

One person has died of an overdose in a local jail since 2019, the health department previously told The Standard. 

The emergence of novel drugs, such as an animal tranquilizer called xylazine and a stronger version of fentanyl called fluoro fentanyl, has heightened the risks for people using illicit drugs in the city. 

Xylazine, or Tranq, causes profound sedation and skin diseases in users and is resistant to Narcan because it’s not an opioid. Of 15 people who died after ingesting the drug last year, all of them had also ingested fentanyl. 

The health department has said that it’s increasing access to treatment as well as opioid antidotes such as Narcan in response to the growing crisis. 

David Sjostedt can be reached at