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Fentanyl Is Deadliest Drug On Long Island

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Tom Gannam
/
AP
Different brands and dosages of fentanyl patches. Fentanyl is about 80 times more powerful than morphine.

The synthetic opioid fentanyl has surpassed heroin as the most deadly drug on Long Island. It has killed at least 220 people in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in 2016.

Dr. Michael Caplan is the chief medical examiner in Suffolk, where so far this year, 170 people have died from overdoses related to fentanyl.

“I don’t think people are turning to fentanyl as much as they are being administered fentanyl possibly without them even knowing, and what I mean that is illicitly manufactured fentanyl may be mixed with other drugs billed as something else,” Caplan says.

Users looking to buy heroin may end up using fentanyl, which is 100 times as strong as heroin. When Dr. Caplan became a medical examiner more than 20 years ago he said heroin was not as prevalent as it is today.

“If you had asked me, ‘Would heroin be a rise like this?’ I would not have predicted it. But given the background things like oxycontin and prescription drugs are so much more expensive and it's much cheaper and you can get heroin more pure now, in hindsight it makes sense.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdoses caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl increased by more than 72 percent nationwide from 2014 to 2015.

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