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Tainted heroin suspected of killing seven in NY state in one day

April 1, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Tainted heroin suspected of killing seven in NY state in one day Getty Images

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Authorities say a batch of tainted heroin or other opioid drugs that could still be sold on the streets is suspected to have been responsible for the deaths of six males and one female in only one day in a western county in New York.

The county executive of Erie County and local health officials cautioned at a press conference that the extraordinarily high number of overdoses in a period of a little over 24 hours from Wednesday to Thursday might be linked to an illicit substance.

“We know something is killing people at a much higher rate that you would normally see,” County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the news conference on Thursday. He added that using the drug “could be a death sentence.”

Poloncarz said Erie County, which surrounds Buffalo, usually sees roughly seven fatal overdoses in a week.

The health department is urging heroin users to throw out the drugs they have in case it is contaminated with fentanyl or another substance that could make it lethal, ABC News reported.

Fentanyl is an opioid like heroin but is 50-100 times more potent, so even a minuscule amount mixed with heroin can result in a fatal overdose. Fentanyl-laced heroin could be so strong that even an overdose reversal drug such as Narcan could be ineffective.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he would consider murder charges against anyone who sells the tainted heroin that resulted in death.

“If I can prove it, I will charge murder,” Erie County attorney John Flynn said.

Poloncarz and other authorities urged that anyone dealing with opioid addiction reach out for assistance by calling a drug hotline. They also indicate that anyone can buy Narcan, which can be purchased over the counter.

“Opioid/heroin addicts should be aware that help is available. Narcan is available over the counter, and you can call our 24-hour hotline at 716-831-7007 to get help,” Poloncarz said.

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