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Fifteen Die in a Single Week from Combined Cancer Painkiller and Heroin Overdose

The medical examiner in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County says that he typically sees around 3-4 heroin-related deaths each week.  However, the past week has been a record breaker, with fifteen people between the ages of 22 to 53 dying after taking an apparent dose of a cancer painkiller and heroin.  The medical examiner says that it’s pretty clear that someone has been manufacturing Fentanyl, the cancer painkiller, and selling it as heroin on the streets.

Fentanyl 10 to 100 Times More Potent Than Morphine

According to the medical examiner, Fentanyl can be 10 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, which is the base molecule in heroin.  Fentanyl is only distributed as a powder when it is being manufactured illegally, as prescription Fentanyl typically comes in a patch that users wear.  The medical examiner also added that someone is purposefully trying to manufacture large amounts of Fentanyl, and that it isn’t hard to make with instructions available on the Internet.  It also isn’t the first time that Pennsylvania has witnessed a Fentanyl-related uptick in deaths: in 1988, 17 people died from illegal Fentanyl and in 2006, 269 people also died.

Police Work to Remove Drug from the Streets

Currently, police are working to remove the drug from Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Westmoreland Counties in the western part of Pennsylvania.  The medical examiner also warns that the drug is likely on the move to other parts of the state, and that potential users should know that just one time of taking the drug could mean the end of their lives.  The drugs are being sold in baggies with the labels “Theraflu”, “Bud Ice”, and “Income Tax”.

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