June 1, 2017 – The Health Department today announced that fentanyl is being increasingly found in cocaine-involved overdose deaths. Fentanyl, an opioid 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is being mixed in illicit drugs – often without the buyer’s knowledge. The presence of fentanyl in any illicit drug, including cocaine, increases the risk of overdose. In 2016, 37 percent of overdose deaths involved cocaine and fentanyl without heroin, up from 11 percent in 2015. In 2016, nearly half (44 percent) of all overdose deaths involved fentanyl, up from 16 percent in 2015. The Health Department also issued a Health Advisory to 40,000 medical professionals with information on how to educate patients, particularly those who may use cocaine occasionally, about the increased overdose risk posed by fentanyl. In April, Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced HealingNYC, the City’s comprehensive initiative to reduce opioid overdose deaths by 35 percent over five years. The City is investing $38 million annually at full ramp-up to increase naloxone distribution and community-based trainings, expand access to medication assisted treatment, promote judicious opioid prescribing and a range of public safety measures.
“All New Yorkers who use drugs, even if only occasionally, should know their drugs may be mixed with fentanyl,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Opioid overdose deaths are preventable. We encourage all New Yorkers who use drugs to take harm reduction measures and equip themselves and their friends and family with naloxone.”
Read the full New York City Health Department press release: HEALTH DEPARTMENT WARNS NEW YORKERS ABOUT COCAINE LACED WITH FENTANYL; OCCASIONAL USERS AT HIGH RISK OF OVERDOSE
Read the 2017 Advisory #10: Presence of fentanyl in cocaine contributing to increase in drug overdose deaths