New challenge emerges in opioid crisis: fentanyl
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 12.22.16
Photo by AP Photo/Tom Gannam, File
This Wednesday, April 26, 2006 file photo shows different brands and dosages of fentanyl patches in St. Louis. Fentanyl is a narcotic that is typically administered to people with chronic pain, including end-stage cancer patients.
(Harrisburg) -- A new challenge has emerged in the fight to slow deaths from heroin.
More and more people in one midstate county are dying from fentanyl that's mixed with heroin.
Fentanyl is said to be 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
York County Coroner Pam Gay says early last year, about one of out four drug overdose deaths included fentanyl.
But it has slowly increased over time, and now, as many as three out of every four deaths include the deadly drug.
York County Assistant District Attorney Dave Sunday tells WITF's Smart Talk it presents a unique challenge for police.
"How are we as local law enforcement able to reach beyond the border of York County and go to some faraway place and stop people from putting all different kinds of chemicals, their analogs, who knows what, into these drugs? It is next to impossible," says Sunday.
Sunday says big-time dealers know what they're doing.
"They're flooding the market, they lowered the price, and they made their product one that addicts cannot walk away from," he adds.
Sunday says law enforcement is working to bring down big-time dealers to cut off supply.
But he also adds cutting off supply isn't enough - noting a big key is getting more people into treatment.
Fentanyl is often made in China or Mexico and imported into the US, where it's then added to heroin batches.
Overdoses recently spiked in Lancaster County as well, though it's not clear if fentanyl is to blame.
Early last year, fentanyl would be detected in one of out every four overdose deaths in York County, but it's now showing up in about three out of every four.
Published in PA Policy