The Drug Enforcement Administration is sounding the alarm after at least seven U.S. cities have reported recent fentanyl-related mass-overdose events.
“Fentanyl is killing Americans at an unprecedented rate,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram stated in a Wednesday letter to federal, state and local law enforcement, warning of the spike in fentanyl-related incidents.
“Already this year, numerous mass-overdose events have resulted in dozens of overdoses and deaths. Drug traffickers are driving addiction, and increasing their profits, by mixing fentanyl with other illicit drugs. Tragically, many overdose victims have no idea they are ingesting deadly fentanyl, until it’s too late,” she added.
A fentanyl-related mass overdose event is described as three or more overdoses occurring close in time and at the same location, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
U.S. cities impacted to date by the recent spike include Wilton Manors, Florida; Austin, Texas; Cortez, Colorado; Commerce City, Colorado; Omaha, Nebraska; St. Louis, Missouri; and Washington, D.C., WGNO reported.
According to the DEA, the mass-overdoses have been fueled primarily by the following recurring scenarios:
- When drug dealers sell their product as “cocaine,” when it actually contains fentanyl.
- When drug dealers sell pills designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions but are actually fake prescription pills containing fentanyl.
“This is creating a frightening nationwide trend where many overdose victims are dying after unknowingly ingesting fentanyl,” the agency stated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 105,000 Americans died of drug overdoses during the 12-month period ended October 2021, with 66% percent of those deaths related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
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