POINT PLEASANT, N.J. – U.S. authorities say more than 80 people have died this year due to an increase in heroin laced with a powerful prescription drug.
The drug fentanyl is typically used to ease the pain of end-stage cancer patients or in anesthesia, but can kill quickly when coupled with heroin. Authorities in New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island say dozens have died in recent weeks.
Officials say dealers sell the heroin as a super high because fentanyl is so potent. But just a small amount can stop someone’s breathing.
As more people are turning to heroin because of crackdowns on prescription drugs, officials worry more may be exposed to fentanyl.
The last outbreak killed hundreds of people in 2006.