The Alachua County Sheriff's office reported that several recent overdose cases in the last month are connected to fentanyl-laced pills circulating the area.
ASCO Public Information Officer Art Forgey said, "We have seen at least five overdoses in the last month that we can track to this. I’m sure that there are others from the EMS side where we were not requested or did not respond."
"We will also be looking back to see how far or when this trend may have started to emerge.
"The Sheriff's Office has become aware of an increase in drug overdoses within the past few weeks," reads a June 12th post on the ASCO Facebook page. "We recently received credible information that fentanyl laced Oxycodone pills are being moved throughout the county. The pills look identical to normal Oxycodone Hydrochloride 30 mg prescription pills."
According to Forgey there are more cases still being investigated. "We have a few overdoses that we suspect are potentially tied to this," he said. "But have not gotten the toxicology back yet from the Medical Examiner.
So far no arrest have been made in connection with the drugs. "We have not made any arrests yet that we can directly tie to this outbreak," Forgey said. "Many of the folks that have overdosed or people that sell drugs are not overly cooperative usually with law enforcement intervention."
Information provided by the ASCO states that: "The United States Office of the Surgeon General estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. struggle with an opioid use disorder. Rates of opioid overdose deaths are rapidly increasing. Since 2010, the number of opioid overdose deaths has doubled from more than 21,000 to more than 42,000 in 2016, with the sharpest increase occurring among deaths related to illicitly made fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids).
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller, is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, with only 2 mg becoming a lethal dose. It is pure white, odorless and flavorless, with a potency strong enough that police and first responders helping overdose victims have themselves overdosed by simply touching or inhaling a small amount. As a result, the DEA has recommended that officers not field test drugs if fentanyl is suspected, but instead collect and send samples to a laboratory for analysis. "Exposure via inhalation or skin absorption can be deadly," they state."