Heroin laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl has killed 37 Marylanders since September, state health officials said today.
The deaths, reported by Maryland's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, accounted for 12 percent of the 318 overdose deaths during that time.
The deaths raise concerns because fentanyl is estimated to be 80 times more powerful than morphine and 100 times more potent than heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Fentanyl greatly increases the risk of death from overdose, state health officials said.
Deaths due to the deadly heroin mixture appear to be widespread in Maryland and not localized to any specific area," Dr. David Fowler, the state's chief medical examiner, said in a statement.
Fowler said the state has also seen overdose deaths due to fentanyl mixed with cocaine.
Heroin-fentanyl deaths have also been seen in the states of Washington, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and along the I-95 corridor, state health officials said.