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Wave Of Deadly Heroin Overdoses Hits Pennsylvania

REUTERS/David Ryder

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Ten people overdosed on heroin over the past ten days in a Philadelphia suburb, amid a wave of incidents linked to deadly batches of the drug.

Officials in Falls Township, Penn., said four of the ten people died after overdosing on the drug. Police believe the heroin involved in two of the fatal overdoses came from Trenton, N.J., a short trip over the border from Falls Township. Authorities are sourcing the heroin involved in the other two fatal overdoses to Philadelphia, which just suffered one of its most deadly days from heroin Sunday, reports WPVI.

Police in Falls Township said they have had roughly 20 fatal heroin overdoses this year, and an additional 80 that were non-fatal. Officials have not said whether the overdoses are connected to incidents in Philadelphia this weekend or if the drugs were cut with additional compounds.

Police responded to at least nine fatal heroin overdoses Sunday in Philadelphia, all linked to what investigators think is a bad batch currently circulating the city. Seven men and two women died after taking the drug Sunday, ranging in ages from 24 to 42. The incidents all occurred in the Kensington and North Philadelphia neighborhoods, areas plagued by the national opioid epidemic.

Nearly 50 people overdosed on heroin in one day in the same area of Philadelphia last month. No one died, but many of the patients had to be revived with the reversal drug naloxone. Police said that more people could have died Sunday if not for emergency responders quickly administering naloxone.

The investigation into Sunday’s overdoses is ongoing, and police do not yet know what the heroin was mixed with. Investigators say heroin in Philadelphia is usually extremely pure but can contain rat poison or more potent ingredients like fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Fatal overdoes from fentanyl spiked 636 percent in Philadelphia over the past year. A synthetic painkiller called W-18 is also being mixed into heroin in Philadelphia and is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine.

The overdoses in Kensington made it one of the deadliest days in the community’s history.

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