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US Attorney for Northern District of Ohio Bridget M. Brennan releases statement after spike in overdose deaths in Cuyahoga County

Earlier this week, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner released a public health alert regarding the rise in deaths.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a previously published, related story. 

Just days after Cuyahoga County reported eight presumed overdose deaths within a matter of hours, triggering a public health alert from Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Bridget M. Brennan has released a statement regarding the alarming news. 

“There are no safe street drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Brennan.  “Pills that look like oxycontin or percocet are often pressed fentanyl, fentanyl analogues or carfentanil.  Similarly, cocaine is not just cocaine, and heroin is not just heroin.  What is being bought on the streets is killing our friends and neighbors.  We will continue to identify, dismantle and prosecute anyone selling these illegal narcotics.  But for those who are using, know that help is available.  Please get the help you need.”

Dr. Gilson said Friday in a press release that expedited testing would be used to confirm which drug or drugs may have caused Thursday's cluster of deaths, which included two women and six men. 

“Much like a month ago, yesterday’s overdose cluster is very concerning. Again, the public needs to be aware that using street drugs in and around Cuyahoga County is deadly,” Dr. Gilson said in a statement. “Resources are available to lessen the dangers, but the simple fact is there is only one sure way to avoid these tragic ends. Get yourself into treatment before it is too late.”

On Friday, officials with the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center also were sounding the alarm after "dangerous counterfeit" prescription pills containing fentanyl were discovered in the state. 

“These dangerous counterfeits contain fentanyl, a powerful drug that can kill, and other contents that could cause death,” according to a press release from the Ohio Department of Public Safety. “The number and letter markings, colors and scoring lines on the fake pills look identical to the real/legitimate pills. It is nearly impossible to tell the difference with the naked eye.”

At this time, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County is providing a 24-hour crisis hotline at (216) 623-6888.

If you or anyone that you know is actively using or recovering from opioid addiction, contact Project DAWN for information at (216) 778-5677.  Eligible program participants are given free Naloxone kits – the opioid reversing antidote. 

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