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Rash of overdose deaths blamed on fentanyl/heroin combo

Written by Craig Layne and Radio Pennsylvania | Jul 1, 2013 4:39 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- At least 50 overdose deaths in 15 Pennsylvania counties are being blamed on a powerful drug that's being sold on the street as heroin.

State drug enforcement leaders say the prescription painkiller fentanyl is responsible for five overdoses and one fatality in Lebanon County alone.

Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis says the narcotic can resemble heroin.

"A heroin user could be injecting heroin not knowing that that batch has fentanyl in it," Tennis says. "They don't know that the fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than heroin, so they die quickly."

Tennis says it's always dangerous to use heroin, but the added risk of accidentally using fentanyl should encourage users to seek treatment.

Overdoses have been confirmed in 15 counties statewide, including Berks and Lebanon.

During the last major fentanyl overdose outbreak in 2006, there were 296 deaths from the drug in Philadelphia alone.

Published in Lebanon, News

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