HELENA — Emergency medical providers in Helena have successfully treated at least nine people facing life-threatening drug overdoses in a 48-hour period, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said Wednesday.
Hospital officials said it appears people are buying heroin that may be laced with fentanyl — a synthetic opioid at least 50 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is our community, and we urge anyone who uses or has a loved one who uses to exercise extreme caution,” emergency room physician Tiffany Kniepkamp said in a statement. “Have Narcan and know how it use it, and please do not hesitate to seek emergency care if needed.”
Ambulance and hospital staff are using naloxone, the generic name for Narcan, to treat the overdoses, Dutton said. In some cases, more than one dose was needed to reverse the effects of the opioids.
One person was hospitalized in serious condition and another person who overdosed was on the way to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, Dutton said, calling it “an alarming situation.”
The Montana Legislature passed a law in 2017 allowing pharmacists to prescribe and dispense naloxone to people who use opioid drugs or to others who would be in a position to help someone at risk of overdosing.
Montana also has an Angel Initiative that allows people to seek law enforcement help with overdoses or help accessing addiction treatment without risk of legal consequences.
States along the southern border are warning that drug cartels are selling heroin laced with fentanyl, Dutton said. It is usually sold as a blue pill that may crumble easily, he said.
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