New Haven police say drug that caused 17 poisonings, 3 deaths was fentanyl

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NEW HAVEN–Police are providing an update on a public health emergency that plagued the city of New Haven last week.

On Thursday, there were more than a dozen drug poisonings in New Haven. Thursday night, police reported that 13 had fallen ill, and two had died.

On Friday, more information was released indicating that although the victims thought they were purchasing cocaine, the drug they actually ingested was likely heroin or fentanyl, and much more deadly.

Now, police are confirming that 17 people were poisoned by fentanyl, and an additional three died from drug overdoses last week. Four of the 17 remain hospitalized.

Those who survived the overdoses confirmed that they thought they were buying cocaine, not heroin, and most had never taken opiates and were not ready for the impact such drugs can have.

Last week, FOX 61 spoke to Dr. Gail D’Onofrio, of Yale-New Haven Hospital, which received most of the patients from the overdoses. She explained, “These patients, who we have interviewed, some who thought they were taking cocaine, were naive to opiates.” At the time, she said she believed that the synthetic opiate fentanyl was responsible.

Fentanyl is known to be up to 100 times more potent than heroin, and some patients needed as many as five doses of Narcan, an anti-opiate antidote, to revive them.

In Monday’s press release updating people about the situation, police said, “It is evident there is a batch or batches of tainted or poisoned heroin and/ or cocaine that recently hit New Haven’s streets.”

Police added they are searching for the source of the drugs, but have not yet found any information. The Drug Enforcement Agency is also investigating.

In the meantime, any and all drugs purchased on the street should be considered deadly, whether in New Haven or neighboring communities.

Most of the cases were in the city’s Newhallville/Dixwell area, though others were found downtown and in the Annex.

If you have any information, please call the anonymous narcotics tipline at 203-946-6098.

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