21 people died of overdoses in 10 days in Upstate New York — synthetic opioids suspected

The Erie County (N.Y.) Heath Executive suspects the synthetic opioid fentanyl is behind a rash of recent drug overdose deaths, according to The Buffalo News.

From Dec. 19 to Dec. 29, 21 people in Erie County died of suspected opioid overdoses.

"This is a tremendous increase in deaths from previous weeks," said Mark Poloncarz, county health executive, according to The Buffalo News.

Mr. Poloncarz said the suspected synthetic opioid linked to the spike in overdoses deaths is known as 3-methyl fentanyl.

Fentanyl is 50-times more potent than morphine and has been linked to surging overdose deaths across the country. The opioid is largely manufactured in China but smuggled into the U.S. by drug cartels. However, a substantial amount of the deadly drug is purchased online via the dark internet where illicit materials are peddled via websites and shipped through the U.S. Postal Service.

According to The Buffalo News, Erie County has seen 230 opioid deaths so far in 2016. There are an additional 94 cases of suspected opioid overdoses.

More articles on population health: 
4 ways the opioid epidemic changed in 2016 
Pennsylvania couple dies of likely heroin overdoses, baby dies of starvation days later 
LA wins $100M in grants to fight homelessness

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