Nearly 50 residents in Philadelphia residents overdosed on heroin on Thursday, many of whom had to be revived with the narcotics reversal drug Narcan. NBC Philadelphia reports that the overdoses occurred in an area known as “The Badlands,” which covers the Kensington neighborhood and parts of North Philadelphia.
Investigators believe that a dangerous batch of heroin sold on the street might be to blame for the overdoses, but officials are continuing to look into the matter. In some cases, heroin is reportedly mixed with fentanyl or cut with rat poison. In August, Philadelphia health officials announced that there had been a 636 percent increase in overdoses of fentanyl in the city over the past two years. 184 residents died of fentanyl-related matters last year, compared to 25 two years ago. In the first few months of 2016, a reported 99 people had died from fentanyl overdoses.
“Clearly, we have an epidemic,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said at a news conference about the matter.
The Philadelphia Police Department has confirmed that there were an abnormally high number of hospitalizations due to drugs on Thursday, but spoke about the matter in general terms in a statement released on Friday.
“Within the past twenty-four hours, Philadelphia has experienced an increase in 911 calls for drug-related hospital cases,” the Philadelphia Police Department said in a statement on Friday. “There have been over one hundred calls received by police; however, the number of calls alone does not necessarily mean that the calls are founded assignments or different incidents.”
“The increase has occurred in more than one division within the city which is a concern for us. Therefore, we are currently investigating the nature of these calls, as well as the factors relating to the increase for medical attention,” it wrote. “The Philadelphia Police Department will continue to aggressively investigate this matter through a myriad of techniques; furthermore, the Patrol and Narcotics Bureaus will continue intense narcotics enforcement within the city to reduce the sales and distribution of illegal narcotics.”
As previously reported, heroin has been in the headlines on a number of occasions in recent months, including this past week as state and federal authorities are seeking to fine a nursing home in Chicago, Illinois over $100,000 after five residents overdosed on heroin this year.
Last month, authorities in Hope, Indiana released photos of a young mother who was found unresponsive—with a baby in the back seat of the car.
Erika Hurt, 25, was administered two doses of Narcan, a nasal spray that works to reverse suspected Opioid overdoses. Hurt was transported to the Columbus Regional Hospital for further evaluation, and later taken to Bartholomew County Jail, where she was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and child neglect. The baby was turned over to the custody of Hurt’s mother.
In September, an Ohio grandmother and her friend lost consciousness while on the way to the hospital to obtain help for an overdose. The woman’s grandson was riding in the back seat.
The City of East Liverpool posted to social media an unblurred photo of Rhonda Pasek, 50, and James Accord, 47—along with the young boy—stating that it needed to “be a voice for the children.”