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Narcan-Resistant Strain Of Fentanyl Hits Western Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A strain of fentanyl that's resistant to Narcan has made its way to Western Pennsylvania.  It's hundreds of times more powerful than morphine and is already causing overdose deaths.

"If Acryl fentanyl is introduced into the population, it can have devastating effects," said DEA Special Agent in Charge, David Battiste. "You would have to reuse Narcan if you are revived from Narcan at all."

According to the DEA, Acryl fentanyl is being manufactured overseas, smuggled into the U.S., and sold mainly on the dark web.

"We suspect China as one of the manufacturers, Canada, Mexico and the like," said Battiste.

According to the DEA, there have been two overdose fatalities in Western Pennsylvania, one in Butler County in November of 2016 and one in Beaver County in January of 2017.  Unlike fentanyl and carfentanil, which have legitimate medical purposes for humans and animals respectively, Acryl fentanyl serves no legitimate purpose.

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According to the DEA, it's still unclear just how resistant it is and why it's resistant.

"If Narcan cannot be used to reverse the effects of these overdoses, something has to be done," said Denise Zyskowski of Robinson Township.

"It's something paramedics are going to have to be prepared to deal with that this treatment might not work," said Bradley Johnson of Pittsburgh.

According to the DEA, we lost 613 people here in Allegheny County in 2016 to overdose deaths; 80 percent of them were fentanyl-related.

"To find out that something like that is in the community and people won't know what it is, It think that's the problem. They think it's something and it's not what they think it is," said Mark Hoyer of Youngwood.

Acryl fentanyl comes in powder form.  According to Battiste, it looks so similar to fentanyl, carfentanil, and heroin that even a narcotics expert could not tell the difference with a naked eye.

"These are dangerous drugs. They're cut by these dealers who don't care about anything other than making a profit. It can be cut with anything," said Battiste.

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