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Three Fentanyl Overdoses In One Day Raise Opioid Concerns In Fresno County

Kerry Klein
Valley Public Radio
Fresno Deputy Police Chief Pat Farmer speaks about fentanyl at a police conference, flanked by Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims and other law enforcement and health professionals.

Law enforcement and health professionals in Fresno are reeling after three people overdosed last week on the opioid drug fentanyl. 

The men snorted what they thought was cocaine, said Fresno Deputy Police Chief Pat Farmer in a press conference on Monday. The three men, who took the drug together on January 7, felt something was wrong but fell unconscious and were discovered by a neighbor.

Toxicology tests at Community Regional Medical Center revealed the powder they snorted was likely pure fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. One of the men died, but two recovered, thanks to the overdose drug Naloxone, which Farmer said Fresno police officers now carry. "We have about 150 double-doses that we have provided to our officers for cases just like this," he said.

Since 2011, overdoses from fentanyl have more than quadrupled across the state. Before 2010, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said her office had seized only a few illegal patches of the drug. Since then, however, they’ve seized more than four pounds. "So it is becoming more and more of a problem here in our area," she said.

Still, other opioid drugs remain bigger killers in Fresno County. Of the 47 people who died of opioid overdoses here in 2017, fentanyl killed only four.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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