SACRAMENTO, California (KCRA) – A sixth person has died in Sacramento County as a result of ingesting pills made to look like a prescription painkiller, health officials confirmed Tuesday.
A total of 28 cases of people becoming sick from the street-bought drug have been reported, including the six people who have died, according to the Sacramento County Division of Public Health.
“I’ve never seen a substance like this,” said Jon Daily, founder of Recovery Happens and an addiction specialist with more than 20 years experience.
“Fentanyl is eight times stronger than heroin or 800 percent stronger than heroin, it’s a very potent substance.”
Initial reports that came in Thursday said people overdosed on street Norco pills, a prescription painkiller made of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, laced with fentanyl, which is estimated to be 80 times as potent as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.
“It is not fentanyl-laced Norco because they haven’t found any acetaminophen, which would be in Norco,” Daily said.
Toxicology reports Tuesday show the pills are actually fentanyl pills made to look like Norco tablets. The health department said the test results showed signs of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
“It concerns me because it’s part of a distribution network of drug dealing going on in our community,” Daily said. “There’s probably more to come.”
The patients range in age from the mid-20s to 50s, according to Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. OIivia Kasirye.
The health department is awaiting the results of blood work for more answers.
“Our hope is that it will stop because I think it is very worrisome when you hear the stories of people taking one or two pills and suddenly they collapse,” Kasirye said.
“I’m confident the people will get arrested. The bigger picture is how to prevent the next crisis,” Daily said. “Drugs are not something to be played around with.”