Cuyahoga County

Cuyahoga County officials give update on fentanyl: 12 deaths, 12 ODs in 3 weeks

12/5/2014 3:00:00 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Since November 13, fentanyl-laced heroin that's 25 times stronger than pure heroin, has taken 12 lives in Cuyahoga County and resulted in 12 overdoses, county officials divulged Friday in what's becoming a routine press conference on the drug's worsening impact.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald, Prosecutor Tim McGinty, and Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson urged media to spread the word about what McGinty called a "public health crisis."

People are buying the drug assuming it's just heroin and consuming it at the same rate, leading to the surge in overdoses and deaths. While it used to be branded as "pink heroin," McGinty said that's no longer the only indicator of fentanyl, and users can not tell it apart from heroin.

In a November press conference, the county reported two fentanyl-related overdoses in one weekend, and the problem has been increasing rapidly since, McGinty said.

"I know this may seem like a broken record and we are here every couple weeks to talk about drugs, but this is not just the same-old, same-old," Gilson said. "Twelve deaths in this short time period linked to fentanyl is an alarming, alarming statistic."

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