Six People Dead from Fentanyl-Heroin Mix in Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Six People Dead from Fentanyl-Heroin Mix in Delaware

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Delaware health officials are calling it an epidemic - six deaths in less than three weeks from overdoses of heroin laced with fentanyl.

Those six deaths  from fentanyl-laced heroin happened between March 20 and April 5. Two happened in Sussex County. Four were in New Castle County.

There could be more coming. And that's got health officials extremely concerned.

Fentanyl is a painkiller - an extremely powerful one. In fact, it can be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

"[It's for] severe pain and mostly in cancer patients," said Dr. Arthur Aduma, Kent General Hospital's pain management coordinator. "We could also use it for a patient in the ICU needing sedation."

And all its power is finding its way into heroin in Delaware.

"This is very serious," said Dr. Jerry Galluci, medical director for the state Dept. of Health and Social Services.

Galluci says an overdose death can be instantaneous.

"Sometimes people inject the drug, and they're found comatose or dead with the needle still in their arm. Even before they get the needle out of their arm, they see the effect."

And it can be nearly impossible to tell the difference between heroin with fentanyl and heroin without it.

"Often people purchase heroin - or think they're purchasing heroin - and they're purchasing heroin that's laced with fentanyl," said Galluci.

However, the state says on the street the fentanyl-heroin mix may have words like "Thor," "New Arrival" or "Shine" on the bags.

Galluci says warning users about this mix, reminding them treatment is available and telling hospital emergency departments to keep an eye are the keys to protecting the public.

The last time fentanyl-laced heroin showed up in Delaware was 2006. Then seven people overdosed on it.

The mix has been a recent problem regionally, too. The Baltimore Sun reported 37 deaths in Maryland between September and February. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said there were at least 14 deaths in late January in the Pittsburgh area.  There were 28 confirmed deaths in Philadelphia between March and April this year. Other fentanyl-laced heroin deaths have also been reported in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Michigan.
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