Laced Heroin Linked to 22 Deaths in Western Pennsylvania

The batch is reportedly laced with a painkiller more powerful than morphine

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A single batch of laced heroin has been linked to 22 deaths in Western Pennsylvania over the past week, with 15 deaths occurring in Allegheny County. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Monday that the stamps have been located in counties across Western Pennsylvania and may already be elsewhere across the state.

The batch is reportedly a combination of heroin and the narcotic painkiller fentanyl. It’s been sold in bags stamped “Theraflu,” “Bud Ice,” and “Income Tax,” Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate KDKA reports. Fetanyl is said to be 100 times more potent than morphine.

Dr. Karl Williams, the Allegheny County medical examiner, told KDKA he believes fentanyl-heroin is a nationwide problem. In 1998, 13 people in Pennsylvania died of overdoses related to “China White” heroin that was also laced with fentanyl.

“A lot of people that think that they’re getting heroin may be getting something that is 10 to 100 times more potent than heroin,” Williams told KDKA.

Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto issued a statement warning drug users against the batch Saturday after four people reportedly died from overdoses. On Sunday, according to KDKA, three more had died.

“Those who are in possession of this potent formula are in danger of losing their lives,” said Mayor Bill Peduto in a statement, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It will kill you. The danger cannot be overstated.”