The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is urging health care providers to exercise increased vigilance in promptly identifying patients suspected to have overdoses and taking appropriate action.
On Thursday, November 17th, 2016, Philadelphia hospital emergency departments identified nearly 40 cases of drug overdose, which is far more than usual (typically 10-20 cases). There have also been reports of unusually large numbers of overdose patients seen by emergency medical services and community service providers. Among those seen with overdoses in hospital emergency departments, there were an equal number of men and women, and most were between the ages of 15 and 64 years.
Anecdotal reports have suggested that heroin ‘brands’ possibly associated with the overdose outbreak include Indian Creek, Knock Out, 100% Quality, Swine Flu, and Scum Bag. The Philadelphia Police Department is currently testing samples to assess whether they contain unusual opioid or non-opioid psychoactive drugs. Both nationally and locally, public health and public safety officials are seeing an increased use of highly potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and fentanyl analogues.