The opioid crisis is continuing to hit the state of Ohio hard. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that 90 percent of all drugs analyzed by the Hamilton County crime lab through the third of May of this year tested positive for a synthetic opiate. Fentanyl-related deaths only accounted for 24 deaths in the county in 2013 but increased by over 1000 percent to have factored into 324 deaths in 2017.
Cincinnati is in Hamilton County and Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, the county coroner, said that her office found fentanyl or a combination of drugs that included fentanyl to have contributed to 85 percent of the opioid overdoses they saw in 2017. Tom Synan, the co-chair of drug interdiction for the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition and Newtown Police Chief, said, “Fentanyl and similar synthetic opiates have produced overdoses and deaths in not only unprecedented numbers but previously unimaginable.”
No one is anticipating fentanyl to go away any time soon. Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Columbus District U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Mauricio Jiminez said that fentanyl is very profitable for the drug cartels. “Their rate of return from investment and profit is astronomical,” he said. With fentanyl being found in so many substances, no one should think anything purchased from the street is safe, including pills that look like prescription medications. The Hamilton County crime lab instituted a policy to treat every substance like it is lethal, according to Sammarco. She has the same policy for anything bought on the street: “It’s like playing Russian roulette,” she added.
The Akron Beacon Journal reported that police on their side of the state are also warning that taking anything, including prescription pills purchased on the street, could be fatal. Police in Akron and across the region have been finding counterfeit prescription pills for more than a year. When tested, the pills have been shown to contain a variety of illicit drugs including fentanyl. The sheriff of Muskingum County issued a public warning in April after his office discovered counterfeit oxycodone pills that “gave all appearances that they were legitimate prescription pills.”
Akron is in Summit County, and public health officials there have been sounding the alarm about counterfeit pills made with fentanyl for some time. Summit County’s weekly public health report stated that at least 27 of the county’s residents overdosed and received treatment at an emergency room. 16 of those people sought help on third and fourth of June. Summit County public health officials want to remind the public that no drug purchased on the streets, including “black market pills that look like prescription drugs,” can ever be considered safe. You never know what is in them so you can never be certain what you are putting into your body.