A federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Friday details a dozen overdoses, some fatal, in Connecticut after the often-deadly opiate fentanyl was sold as cocaine.
It all happened in about an eight-hour time frame last June in New Haven, Conn. Of the 12 overdoses, three were fatal. Two people died on the way to the hospital while another died while in the intensive care unit, according to the report.
Fentanyl, which is an opioid about 50 times stronger than heroin, was identified as the cause of death in toxicology screens for two patients, the report stated.
Of the nine patients who were admitted to the hospital, four were sent to the intensive-care unit. One patient required continuous naloxone — a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose — infusion for 12 hours. Others needed breathing tubes, suffered from kidney and cardiac injury and gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, according to the report.
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“What’s so unusual about this situation in New Haven is that it looks as if these people were not opioid users or opioid addicts. They were cocaine users and they were buying white power,” Dr. Raymond Isackila, an addiction specialist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Ohio, who was not involved in the CDC report, told ABC News. “They thought they were buying cocaine and here it is fentanyl, which is the opposite to the stimulate drug cocaine.”
Authors of the CDC report noted that the Conneticut outbreak was “unique” due to presenting fentanyl as cocaine to an “to an opioid-naive population.”
The report also notes that a “ swift coordinated multi-agency response” to the overdoses “likely limited the impact” they could have had on the community.
In 2015, Manatee County had the highest number of deaths per capita in the state, where the medical examiner found a presence of heroin, fentanyl, morphine or cocaine, according to the Medical Examiners Commission annual report.