Montana county reports 3 recent fentanyl overdose deaths

February 23, 2022 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Three people died of apparent fentanyl overdoses in less than a month in Lewis and Clark County, Sheriff Leo Dutton said.

Counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl were found on or near the people who died between Jan. 28 and Feb. 15, Dutton told the Independent Record on Tuesday. A fourth overdose death was believed to be a suicide, Dutton said.

The pills involved were blue with an “M” on one side and a “30” on the other, making them look like a 30 mg oxycontin pill.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and used to treat severe pain, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It also slows a person’s breathing and heart rate.

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Dutton had issued a warning about illicit drugs being laced with fentanyl on Jan. 19, saying emergency medical providers in the Helena area had to use naloxone to reverse overdoses in at least 11 cases in just a few days.

The recent Helena-area cases come as police Commerce City, Colorado are investigating the apparent fentanyl overdose deaths of three women and two men who were found on Sunday. They had believed they were using cocaine, prosecutors said.