At Least 52 People Hospitalized, 13 Dead In California After Overdosing On Counterfeit Painkiller

Norco is a brand name for a prescription opioid painkiller that combines acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Unscrupulous jerks are also selling fake Norco that contains the powerful opioid fentanyl, resulting in dozens of hospitalizations and and least 13 deaths from overdoses in California, and that’s only in the last few weeks.

Late last week, the Sacramento County Division of Public Health released an update on fentanyl-related overdoses in the area, confirming that 52 people had been hospitalized, including 12 deaths since late March.

An April 20 report from officials in neighboring Yolo County put the total at 53 hospitalizations and 13 deaths, and advises anyone in the region to not take any prescription pill they didn’t receive from a pharmacist or directly from their physician — not out of legal concerns, but so you don’t die.

The Associated Press is reporting the current total of fentanyl-related deaths in the region as 14.

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the fake Norco is spreading west into the San Francisco Bay Area, where hospitals have treated at least seven patients who unwittingly took fentanyl.

Fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths have become a growing problem nationwide, and the CDC says the drug is responsible for the highest rise in death rates in recent years. The drug — which can cause significant central nervous system and respiratory depression — is increasingly being added to heroin, resulting in overdose and death.

“The distribution of counterfeit tablets represents a major public health threat given the potentially lethal nature of the tablets,” writes the CDC. “Health care providers should be aware of this and other concurrent outbreaks and notify local poison centers and health departments of suspected cases. Collaborative efforts among public health, medical, and law enforcement officials are essential for a rapid and effective response.”