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Deadly drug is like ‘poison in a package’

A deadly synthetic opiate is causing new concern, especially in Ocean County where law enforcement officials are already dealing with a heroin epidemic.

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“Fentanyl is 100 percent more powerful than morphine,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Joe Coronato. The drug is usually added to heroin, but now it’s being distributed in its purest state. “It’s like poison in a package.”

Coronato said the drug comes in two forms, both of which are dangerous if abused.

“There’s two type of Fentanyl: Fentanyl that’s produced by pharmaceutical companies and then there’s raw Fentanyl that’s being produced by elicit drug manufacturers,” he said.

Fentanyl is sold as a prescription patch for treating patients with severe pain, but also can be found in powder form, according to Coronato.

Fetanyl was linked to two separate deaths in Ocean County recently. Coronato said a 19-year-old Brick Township woman died after ingesting the substance. An 18-year-old man in Stafford Township also died as a result of using the drug.

“I’ve been in touch with the Attorney Generals of various other states and out in the midwest and apparently it’s becoming a little bit more prevalent that Fentanyl is being sold by itself,” Coronato said.

The opiate antidote Narcan, also known as Naloxone, reverses the effects of heroin and has been successful in saving at least 54 overdose victims in Ocean County since police began administering it in April. Coronato says it’s unknown whether Naloxone can be effective in reversing Fentanyl overdoses.

“The bottom line is: when you take any drug, unless it’s in pill form, you don’t know what you’re taking,” Coronato said.

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