Fourteen Sacramento residents have fatally overdosed in recent weeks on a pill disguised as a popular painkiller.
It wasn’t Norco. Fourteen people in California fatally overdosed in recent weeks after ingesting a pill they believed to be Norco. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pills were all mixed with the powerful opioid fentanyl.
Those 14 overdoses took place in the Sacramento area, but Bay Area hospitals began to pick up on a similar trend. According to reports, Bay Area hospitals treated seven patients who overdosed on a drug they thought was Norco. These patients all survived.
In less than a month’s time, health officials from Sacramento County have reported 52 Norco poisonings. Twelve of the fatalities occurred in Sacramento County, while the other two fatal overdoses occurred in neighboring Yolo County.
The source of the pills is still being investigated.
The problem of fentanyl has been spreading rapidly throughout the United States in recent years. The East Coast and Midwest in particular are known to be areas where heroin mixed with fentanyl (as well as fentanyl disguised as heroin) are sold. According to Casey Rettig of the DEA, fentanyl originates in China and is trafficked into the U.S. via Mexico.
Medical toxicology professionals also noted that the pills the Bay Area residents took contained another ingredient – promethazine. Promethazine (common brand names: Phenergan, Phenadoz, and Promethegan) are sometimes prescribed to treat allergies or motion sickness, but they are often taken for the unapproved use of heightening an opioid high.