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Seattle Police Investigating Potential Duragesic Fentanyl Overdose Deaths

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Seattle, WASeattle police said recently that cocaine mixed with Duragesic Fentanyl may be circulating in the area and could have caused two people to die of overdose, reports the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

According to the news source, the first case involved a 38-year-old man who died in an apartment over Memorial Day weekend. Two acquaintances told police that they had last seen the man in the early morning hours the previous day and that he had been using Fentanyl.

Later on the same day that the 38-year-old man was found dead, one of the two acquaintances who talked to police was reportedly also found dead in a separate apartment complex, according to the news source.

Police have said that the 25-year-old man was using cocaine that may have contained Fentanyl when his fiance woke up to find him dead, according to the news provider. The woman, who also reportedly used the drug, was taken to Harborview Medical Center for precautionary reasons.

Caleb Banta-Green, a researcher at the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, told the news source that even the smallest trace of Fentanyl in cocaine can potentially be deadly.

Still, he says that claims that cocaine mixed with Fentanyl is circulating around Seattle are purely speculative, as he has not seen any evidence recently that would point to such contamination, according to the news source.

In addition to the potential overdoses in Seattle, it was determined that a Palm Harbor, Florida man who died in February was killed by an accidental overdose of Fentanyl, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Jim Freeman, 40, had used a number of Fentanyl patches after a 2009 surgery, and when he was the victim of a stray bullet to the face, he reportedly asked for the patches more often than they had been prescribed in order to deal with the pain, according to the news source.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Fentanyl is part of a class called synthetic opiate analgesics and is more potent than morphine. The drug is reportedly used to treat patients experiencing severe pain, particularly after surgeries, according to the Institute.

The Institute adds that mixing Fentanyl with heroin or cocaine can dramatically increase its potency and have a number of potentially serious side effects including confusion, sedation, unconsciousness, depression and addiction.

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