A man who allegedly put a powerful liquid painkiller linked to the heroin epidemic into a vaping device died Saturday in Michigan after taking a “number of hits.”
Authorities responding to the scene attempted to revive the unidentified man, a 39-year-old from Alpena County, Mich., but were unsuccessful. The man and his wife allegedly purchased fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller roughly 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin, online and subsequently manufactured the potent opioid into a vaping liquid, reports Michigan Live.
The man took several hits of the liquid fentanyl before passing out and becoming unresponsive. He never regained consciousness. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are blamed for fueling the current drug overdose epidemic sweeping the country. Some analogs, or synthetic replications of fentanyl, are so powerful they are proving resistant to the overdose reversal drug Narcan.
“They are worse [than anthrax] in our opinion,” Patrick Trainor, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Philadelphia office, told the New York Post. “You have a drug like carfentanil that’s 10,000 times stronger than heroin.”
Synthetic opioids are increasingly cropping up due to how cheap they are compared to heroin. While a kilogram of heroin from a Mexican cartel will cost a domestic supplier roughly $64,000, they can order a kilogram of fentanyl through the mail from China for as little as $2,000.
“These high-potency opioids and opioid analogs are thousands of times stronger than street opioids like heroin and are far more likely to cause death,” Dr. Steve Aks, director of toxicology at Stroger Hospital in Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune in May.
Drug overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death for Americans under 50. The New York Times recently culled through data from state health departments and county medical examiners and coroners, predicting there were between 59,000 and 65,000 drug deaths in 2016.
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