The number of drug-related deaths in Detroit’s Wayne County has fallen dramatically since authorities sounded a public health alarm last month over the illicit use of the painkiller fentanyl, but it’s too early to know whether the crisis has passed, reports the Associated Press. officials said Friday. Since May 18, there have been 52 suspected drug-related deaths in the county, spokeswoman Teresa Blossom says. Forty-one of those came in the first eight days.
Officials in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, and Chicago also have reported an uptick in fentanyl deaths. U.S. Centers for Disease Control investigators were in Detroit last week gathering information, but are not expected to issue a report until later this year. In most cases, the drug is being mixed with heroin or given in place of heroin, and users apparently are unaware that they are not taking pure heroin. Wayne State University researchers are studying a new version of fentanyl that is supposed to be more resistant to abuse. The study involves giving fentanyl to heroin users for three weeks, The Detroit News reported.