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Lethal mix of heroin turning up in West Virginia

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Police officials have confirmed that a deadly heroin batch mixed with fentanyl is in this region.

The lethal concoction of heroin and the drug fentanyl — that is 100 times more potent than morphine — has been blamed for dozens of deaths in the eastern United States.

No deaths have been reported in West Virginia from the drug that has been sold on the street as “Bud Light,” “Theraflu” and “Income Tax,” according to the West Virginia Poison Control Center.

But at least one Harrison County death this year was related to heroin.

Harrison EMS Assistant Chief of Operations Steve McIntire said ambulances have been dispatched to 11 overdoses this year in which a patient was taken to a hospital.

“Some involved heroin, but the exact number can’t be determined. There has been at least one heroin-related fatality this year,” said McIntire, who also is the Harrison County medical examiner. “There have been several heroin-related deaths over the last year. When bath salts overdoses went down, the heroin overdoses skyrocketed.”

Mark Povroznik, United Hospital Center chief quality officer, suspects it is just a matter of time before deaths are seen in local hospitals because of the heroin with its widespread use in Pittsburgh.

Police officials have said many drugs have come to this area from Pennsylvania due to the excessive prices dealers can get for various narcotics.

“Fentanyl is a potent narcotic. It has a very needed role in the health care setting within skilled hands. Because of its potency, it takes just a little to get an exaggerated response. One of its side effects involves apnea or chest wall rigidity, which is the inability to breathe for yourself,” Povroznik said.

Physicians understand what dose and time restrictions are, he said.

“However, when you take a drug with that level of potency and mix it with heroin, then give it to someone who has no idea what the dose levels are or how much they are even getting, that is why you are seeing deaths from this,” Povroznik said…

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