Fentanyl Death Demographics in Phila.
The opioid additive fentanyl, last seen in big numbers in 2006, reappeared in many parts of the country last year, making heroin and other illicit drugs far more deadly. Lab tests on blood drawn at autopsy can screen for the presence of certain drugs — and often detect several — but cannot prove which one did the most harm. The Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office determined that 57 deaths between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2014, included the presence of fentanyl from an illicit source, more than twice the total for all of 2013.
Of the 57 deaths in which illicit fentanyl was detected
Analysis has been completed for most of the cases. Besides illicit fentanyl, the following drugs were detected, often more than one per case.
1. Opiates derived from the natural opium poppy plant include, besides heroin: morphine (which the body may have broken down from heroin, 6 cases); and codeine (2 cases); 2. Non-opiods include: PCP (3 cases); methamphetamine (1); and barbiturates (1); 3. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which mimic the effect of naturally derived opiates, include: methadone (4 cases); oxycodone (2); tramadol (2); oxymorphone (1); and hydrocodone (1)
SOURCE: Philadelphia Office of Addiction Services
MIKE PLACENTRA / Staff Artist