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Local officials warn of synthetic fentanyl in Acadiana

Posted at 6:19 PM, Jan 14, 2021

DUSON — Health officials and law enforcement officers are warning people of the dangers of synthetic fentanyl.

The same drug that caused the death of pop star Prince has crept its way into our community in recent years.

"This is not something that is surprising to us," says Duson Police Chief Kip Judice. "Law enforcement and medical people have seen this coming far beyond our borders, but when it hits home, it's obvious that it is a more serious issue."

The Lafayette Parish Coroner's Office reported 26 deaths caused by overdose connected to synthetic fentanyl in 2019. In 2020, that number nearly doubled to 50.

Dr. Kenneth Odinet, Lafayette Parish coroner, says that the fentanyl is most commonly seen laced into heroin.

"People have used heroin illegally for a long time. We've not seen any deaths related with those typically. Someone can digest more than the body can deal with and we can have a death in that case," says Judice. "But no where near the rates we're seeing with this introduction of fentanyl in the drug."

Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, is normally sufficient when first responders arrive to an overdose scene, but health officials say the synthetic fentanyl might be too strong for Narcan to reverse.

Judice says, "It's immediate and it's irreversible."

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