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Tainted Heroin Batch Sparks Four Fatal Overdoses In Five Hours

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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A batch of heroin circulating in Delaware caused four fatal overdoses within a five-hour period Sunday, and police think the opiate-based painkiller fentanyl is to blame.

The overdoses were spread out across the state in Wilmington, Newark and Claymont, which police fear means the deadly batch may still be in distribution. The cause of death in each case is not yet official but police found heroin and syringes with all four victims. Fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is the driving force behind a surge in the opioid death rate in Delaware, reports Delaware Online.

Fatal overdoses in the state jumped 35 percent last year and roughly one-third of the deaths were attributed to fentanyl.

“This is concerning and something we’ve seen before with fentanyl or other bad batches of heroin,” Lt. Col. Vaughn Bond Jr. told Delaware Online. “This is a stark reminder that the drug dealers don’t care what they lace the heroin with and couldn’t care less about the addicted person’s life — drug dealers simply see drug users as a means of making money.”

Authorities responded to all four overdoses and attempted to administer the overdose reversal drug Narcan, but were unsuccessful in their attempts to revive the victims. Opioids are blamed for 308 deaths in 2016, and officials fear the situation will only deteriorate.

States across the country are experiencing similar problems with random batches of heroin that lead to mass overdoses in a single day or over a week. Authorities believe many of these incidents are due to dealers street-testing a new cut of heroin. Authorities linked 35 deaths over five days in Philadelphia in early December to heroin overdoses in a wave of fatalities city officials said they had “never seen” before.

A record 33,000 Americans died from opioid related overdoses in 2015, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid deaths contributed to the first drop in U.S. life expectancy since 1993 and eclipsed deaths from motor vehicle accidents in 2015. Combined, heroin, fentanyl and other opiate-based painkillers account for roughly 63 percent of drug fatalities, which claimed 52,404 lives in the U.S. in 2015.

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