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6 Dead 22 Overdosed after Taking Drug Disguised as Norco

Apr 6, 2016

Six people are dead and 22 have suffered an overdose after taking a drug they believed to be Norco, New York Times reports. The synthetic drug is being illegally sold in Sacramento County, California. Norco is a prescription painkiller containing acetaminophen and hydrocodone.

The disguised drug was sold as Norco. "In reality, they're taking fentanyl, which is much, much, much more potent," said Laura McCasland, spokeswoman for the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services. Fentanyl can be fatal in small amounts; it is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Reports of fentanyl overdose started on March 24th, NYT reports. McCasland says the drug looked similar to Norco. Some survivors said they bought the pills from strangers while other say they got it from someone they knew. Drug Enforcement Administration special agency John J. Martin, who heads the San Francisco field division, said national cases of fentanyl overdose were on the rise. The recent overdose and death case were new for his office, according to NYT.

NYT reports that these cases are reflective of a wider drug epidemic involving prescription pain killers. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued new guidelines for opioids in light of overdose deaths. The agency is asking healthcare professionals to recommend alternatives such as exercise, behavioral therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs, before prescribing opioids for chronic pain.

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