A Legal Drug That's 50 Times More Powerful Than Heroin Blamed for Spike in Fatal Overdoses
Barbara Goldberg - Business Insider
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March 22, 2015
Federal drug enforcement officials last week issued a nationwide alert about the dangers of fentanyl, a powerful opioid often used to increase the potency of heroin and blamed for an “alarming” spike in deadly overdoses.
Fentanyl, a prescription drug used as an anesthetic and pain reliever for terminally ill patients, is being illegally produced in underground drug labs for street narcotics, said Barbara Carreno, spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“It gives dealers a more potent product, since fentanyl is so strong,” Carreno said. “Just like any other business, they are competitive and they want people to want to buy and distribute their product. The flip side is that this more potent drug is killing people.”
Even a tiny amount of fentanyl can be lethal, since it is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and as much as 50 times more powerful than heroin, the DEA said.
“Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said in a statement.
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