Health Care
2:09 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Overdose Deaths Reach 45; Fentanyl Plus Heroin Still Suspected

Rhode Island's health department director says 45 Rhode Islanders have died from overdoses so far this year. Concerns are growing that a dangerous combination of heroin and Fentanyl is continuing to kill unsuspecting users. The state medical examiner is still investigating, but Fentanyl is suspected in many of these deaths. It's a powerful painkiller, up to 80 times more powerful than heroin. In combination it can kill even habitual users quickly. There's an antidote for overdoses from opioids like heroin and other painkillers. It's called Narcan. And it can bring someone out of an overdose in seconds. Firefighters and ambulance crews have been using it for years. Rhode Island State Police will begin carrying it. And although it still requires a prescription, it's available to anyone at Walgreens pharmacies thanks to a kind of "blanket" prescription from a Rhode Island physician.  At a community forum in Providence Wednesday night, Providence Chief of Police Hugh Clements and Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association president Elwood Johnson, Jr. said they supported equipping more police departments with Narcan. State lawmakers are considering legislation to require insurers to cover the drug.