State police are still trying to track down the source of a drug that has killed as many as 23 people in Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler and Westmoreland Counties, based on data released Friday by the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office.
There have been 14 deaths in Allegheny county in which victims tested positive for both heroin and Fentanyl, a powerful analgesic used to treat cancer patients.
90.5 WESA reporter Liz Reid has been following the story and says leading up to January 24th, the County Medical Examiner saw one opiate overdose death per day, which was not considered abnormal, but he became concerned when that number jumped to 3 in one day, on Friday and 4 more that Saturday.
“Those ones that came in on Saturday, he said they were obvious opiate overdoses. There were injection sites where they had injected the drug. They also came in with stamp bags, which are the unit that heroin is sold in. Those stamp bags that came in on Saturday, as well as the blood of the victims both tested positive for heroin and Fentanyl.”
“Theraflu” and “Bud Ice” are the branding of the heroin that’s been linked with the overdoses. This heroin is especially deadly because it was cut with Fentanyl.
Reid says it’s common for heroine to be cut with something that looks like heroin but is inert, such as powdered milk, sugar, or a powdered laxative.
But with these recent batches she says it’s likely that the use of Fentanyl was a matter of opportunity.
“It’s likely that someone came into a large amount of Fentanyl or they were able to synthesize Fentanyl for cheaper, and more efficiently than they can make heroin.”