The high dose deaths across the country associated to Fentanyl, an effective prescription pain-killer that has been pushed into the illegal drug supply, seem to be slowing.”We’ve seen a decline in the number of deaths. I won’t say it’s definitely over, but it looks like this fight is declining,” said John P. Walters, the director of National Drug Control Policy.
Walters, who was in Chicago for a forum on teen drug use and technology, said the slowdown started a couple of weeks ago.
Deaths connected to Fentanyl
Fatal overdoses from heroin or cocaine laced with fentanyl have been reported in eight states. Fentanyl is hundreds of times stronger than morphine and heroin and can kill in an instant.
Deaths connected to fentanyl in Chicago were first reported in February. In Cook County, toxicology reports have so far linked about 120 fatal drug overdoses to fentanyl.
Chicago Police said Tuesday that the deaths had slowed since June when local and federal authorities busted up a street-gang drug operation at the Dearborn Homes on the South Side.
“We shut them down completely,” said Frank Limon, chief of organized crime for Chicago Police. “It had a dramatic impact.”
About 10 people died around the start of the year from drugs that investigators believe were purchased at the Dearborn Homes. The deaths were the first major cluster to come to the attention of authorities.
An investigation into a Mexican lab suspected of manufacturing fentanyl also is continuing, Walters said. The lab was shut down in May and five people were arrested. Authorities suspect it could be the source of fentanyl coming into the United States.
Walters’ office has also planned a national conference at the month end in Philadelphia to discuss how to assist in reducing a demand for heroin by getting help for addicts.