Suspected Fentanyl Overdoses Leave 9 Dead in Northern California
When the fifth overdose patient rolled into the emergency room at UC Davis Medical Center last week, doctors knew they were dealing with something out of the ordinary.
They were used to heroin overdoses. But the patients admitted in the wee hours of March 24 showed symptoms of opiate toxicity that were far more pronounced than usual.
In about a week, 36 people overdosed, at least nine of them fatally, from street drugs in the greater Sacramento region. Doctors compared notes and quickly closed in on the prime suspect: fentanyl, a painkiller that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and lethal even in very small doses.
Officials are now frantically searching for the source of the drug, which is being produced in counterfeit tablets that can be bought for as little as $5 each on the street.
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