Across the nation, at least 300 deaths and hundreds more non-fatal overdoses this year have been blamed on fentanyl, a prescription drug 80 times more powerful than morphine that was cut into heroin to boost the high and sold under brazen street brands as “Drop Dead,” “Lethal Injection,” and “Get High or Die Trying,” the Baltimore Sun reports. The pace of fentanyl-related deaths has slowed, but the rash of overdoses remains one of the summer’s puzzling mysteries – and cities are prepared for the possibility of more deaths.
“We’re predicting more than 100 deaths here, and of course, we don’t know where it will stop,” said William Wingert of the Philadelphia medical examiner’s office. “It’s been a big puzzle to put together in a hurry, and it’s been critical to do so,” said David Murray of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who said fentanyl has gained appeal as a dope additive as the purity of heroin has declined. The traditional heroin trafficking route between New York City and Baltimore has dodged, for now, the influx of fentanyl-tainted drugs. “It may just be a matter of time,” said Erin Artigiani of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, College Park. “It may be that the heroin dealers in Baltimore city still have a good enough product that they haven’t felt the need to start mixing it in yet.”