BILLINGS - RiverStone Health in Billings reported on Monday, June 6, 2022, that eight people between the ages of 24 and 60 died of fentanyl overdoses in Montana between May 22 and June 1.
The deaths occurred in the following counties: Custer, Cascade, Gallatin, Lake, Lewis & Clark, and Yellowstone.
The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services reported the deaths Monday in an emailed alert to Montana healthcare providers, according to a news release.
Blue M30 pills (likely manufactured fentanyl pressed into counterfeit pills) were located nearby several of the decedents, DPHHS said. Such blue pills containing fentanyl have been used illicitly for smoking, injection and swallowing. Fentanyl often has been mixed with other illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, so users don’t know what drugs they are getting or how potent the dose is.
Fentanyl is an opioid pain drug that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is medically approved for managing severe and chronic pain. But most cases of fentanyl deaths have been linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Fentanyl is so potent and potentially lethal that first responders are cautioned to wear gloves to avoid touching the drug.
In Yellowstone County, the Sheriff’s Office has received reports of six drug overdoses between May 22 and May 31, including one fatal fentanyl overdose. All six overdoses were associated with opioids, although not all reports specified fentanyl, the press release states.
In at least one of the recent Yellowstone County overdose cases, several doses of Narcan were administered and the person survived.
RiverStone Health advises that if anyone in your household uses opioids, you should have Narcan on hand. Narcan is a nasal spray containing naloxone, a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. Many overdoses are accidental and can occur even if the user is taking a prescription opioid and isn’t addicted to opioids.
Montana pharmacies are authorized to dispense Narcan without a prescription. Check with your nearest pharmacy on availability.
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