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Opioid Overdoses and Deaths in Kentucky Are Alarmly Higher than Cook County, Illinois

Sat February 11 2017 3:49 pm
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Louisville Metro Emergency Services responded to 52 overdose calls between midnight Wednesday and 8 a.m. ET Friday, said agency spokesman Mitchell Burmeister.

Kentucky has one of the highest fatal overdose rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This week, the number of overdose cases reached an astonishing level in Louisville.

Louisville, Kentucky’s Metro Emergency Services responded to 52 calls for overdoses in the 32 hours from 12:01 a.m. Thursday Feb. 9 until 8 a.m. Friday Feb. 10, 2017. One overdose was fatal. Louisville’s city and suburban population is about 1,269,702.

There were 695 overdose cases through January 2017, which is a 33 percent increase from January 2016. Jefferson County, where Louisville is located, had been averaging 22 overdoses a day this year.

Lexington, Kentucky, is also plagued by an opioid overdose epidemic. A recent news account reported there were 134 overdose deaths in the city in 2015; and by November of 2016, the city had reached the same figure as 2015’s total.

Compared to Illinois, the Cook County medical examiner’s office found 102 deaths were caused, at least partially, by fentanyl or fentanyl analogues the entire year in 2015. There were only 20 deaths attributed to fentanyl in 2014.

The yearlong deaths from fentanyl or fentanyl analogues in Cook County increased to 380 before December 2016’s report was finished.

The population of Lexington and suburbs is about 500,535. The population of Cook County is about 5,238,216.

In 2016, paramedics in Lexington, Kentucky had dispensed 1,550 doses of naloxone, which counters the effects of opioid overdoses,

Fentanyl drug varieties are up to 100 times more potent than heroin, and 80 times more potent than morphine. The CDC describes Fentanyl as a rapid-acting opioid (synthetic opiate) drug that alleviates pain without causing loss of consciousness (analgesic). Fentanyl depresses central nervous system (CNS) and respiratory function. Exposure to fentanyl may be fatal — usually from respiratory arrest. If the respiratory arrest doesn’t kill the victim, it might cause irreversible brain damage.

Fentanyl analogs are also known to have killed hundreds of people throughout Europe and the former Soviet republics. Use began in Estonia in the early 2000s during a heroin shortage, and novel derivatives continue to be discovered by researchers. Estonia has the highest death rate from drug overdoses in Europe. The slang term for fentanyl analogues is China white, Persian white or Afghan — misnomers intended to be intriguing cover for a killer powder synthesized in clandestine labs nearby in Russia. Another slang name for fentanyl analogues is flatline.

Chinese suppliers are also known to be contributing to America’s Fentanyl crisis in 2016. A DEA report warns about a flood of counterfeit pills hitting the U.S., which resemble legal medications, but actually contain fentanyl. Therefore, black-market buyers of these drugs aren’t aware they are getting fentanyl.

Pill presses from China, meanwhile, are distributed all over the U.S. According to the DEA, Chinese shippers often label the pill presses as other goods or break them into pieces to try to evade U.S. regulation.

Federal agents in Memphis seized multiple shipments of fentanyl and two analogs —- acetyl fentanyl and butyryl fentanyl —- along with pill presses that were “mislabeled” as other goods from China, according to the DEA.

Sometimes pills containing fentanyl are pressed to look like prescription anti-anxiety drug Xanax or the prescription painkiller hydrocodone with deadly results.

Fentanyl and analogues are in the lists of Schedule I and Schedule II drugs as defined by the United States Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs have currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Schedule I drugs have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and have no accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

See also …
courier-journal Sharp overdose spike in Louisville called a new ‘reality’

Wall Street Journal The Chinese Connection Fueling America’s Fentanyl Crisis

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Louisville Metro Emergency Services responded to 52 overdose calls between midnight Wednesday and 8 a.m. ET Friday, said agency spokesman Mitchell Burmeister. Interview with Dr.Robert Couch, Emergency Medical Director at Norton Audobon Hospital.

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