Heroin laced with fentanyl causes numerous U.S. deaths
Officials announced today that they now believe that heroin laced with the synthetic opiate named fentanyl is responsible for over 80 deaths across the U.S. in the past few weeks. Fentanyl, a narcotic employed to manage chronic pain, is almost 80 times stronger than morphine and the cause of at least 25 deaths in Rhode Island and 37 in Maryland. An additional 22 deaths have been reported in Pennsylvania according to the (Jamestown, New York) Post Journal.
State health departments have notified local medical providers about the recent increase in these fentanyl-related deaths. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reported that 1,013 overdose deaths occurred during a fetanyl epidemic between April 2005 and March 2007. The medical community is not surprised by the more recent heroin-fentanyl deaths.
D.E.A. representative Michelle Spahn told the press that authorities are often unable to determine if the fentanyl is pharmaceutical grade or if it is being secretly manufactured somewhere in North America. She said: “A witch doctor could have put them together. There could be rat poison in them for all we know . . . and this is what people are putting into their bodies.”
The director for Substance Abuse Research at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ellen Unterwald, stated that “even a small amount of fentanyl can be fatal”. She adds: “This product is being sold as heroin . . . and produces extremely potent opioid effects including coma and respiratory depression. (It) can overcome the tolerance of chronic opioid abusers.”
The executive director of the Mental Health Association, Rick Huber, stated that drug dealers sell heroin laced with higher percentages of fentanyl in order to increase their customers’ desire and tolerance. Then they lower the amount of fetanyl to increase the demand for the product.
According to various online sources, some dealers are actually selling fentanyl as heroin. Bill Mark, the Northern Kentucky Strike Force Director, commented that this is “the first time” he has seen fentanyl being passed off as heroin as opposed to being laced with it.
Heroin laced with fentanyl kills over 80
(Image courtesy of LawyerShop)