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Heroin Laced with Fentanyl Causing Increase in Overdose Deaths
According to a report from a medical examiner in Pennsylvania, at least one dozen people have died from overdosing on heroin that has been laced. The Huffington Post said that the issue is reportedly occurring across the country.
The report was issued on Thursday by the Allegheny County medical examiner, Dr. Karl Williams. Tests from his lab confirm that the painkiller fentanyl was in heroin samples that were seized from 14 overdose death cases in the state of Pennsylvania.
CNN reported that Fentanyl is usually prescribed to patients suffering from cancer as a last resort and it is anywhere from 10 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Heroin laced with fentanyl is being sold on the streets with the names of “Theraflu” and “Bud Ice.”
Williams expects that further testing will link the laced heroin to more deaths caused by overdose in the state. Twenty-two people have died in six Pennsylvania counties in the western portion of the state over the past two weeks due to heroin overdoses.
“It is a marked increase… at least three or four times what we would expect,” Williams told CNN.
Six people were charged in western Pennsylvania for possessing heroin believed to be the cause of the deadly overdoses. One of the suspects was found with 36 bags of heroin that were labeled “Theraflu.” They were hidden in his underwear. The Pittsburgh Gazette said that Pennsylvania State Police believe the laced heroin is entering the state through northern New Jersey.
In January, there were 13 heroin deaths in Rhode Island where fentanyl was present, according to the Providence Journal.
“The word on the street is that there’s bad heroin out there,” Richard Holcomb, director of Project Weber, told the paper. “People believe that they’re shooting heroin but the substance does not look like heroin and they’re shooting it and they’re dying.”
Since September, Maryland medical examiners believe that 37 heroin-related deaths could have been caused by fentanyl in the heroin.Heroin Laced with Fentanyl Causing Increase in Overdose Deaths by Jim Vassallo