• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 53s

Health department sees rise in fentanyl-related deaths in Alaska

By Lauren Maxwell 8:34 PM May 19, 2017

A strong batch of heroin on the streets of Anchorage has caused at least three deaths in recent weeks and state health officials fear that number could grow.

According to a release from the State Department of Health, three Anchorage residents who died from overdoses had the drug fentanyl in their systems. The release said fentanyl is suspected in eight additional deaths.

Dr. Jay Butler, Chief Medical Officer for the State of Alaska, said fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is sometimes mixed with heroin but is much more powerful. He said people may be buying heroin and not realize they are getting fentanyl as well. He said you can’t tell just by looking at the drug.

“It’s possible it is being sold as a much more powerful opioid but it’s much more dangerous,” said Butler. “So if someone is using the same amount of heroin that they are accustomed to using and it has fentanyl in it, it can greatly increase the risk of overdose death.”

According to the Anchorage Fire Department, paramedics responded to 34 heroin overdoses that required treatment with the drug Naloxone in just the first two weeks of May. Assistant Chief Erich Scheunemann called the number very high and said it remained so with only a slight drop throughout the remainder of the week.

It isn’t the first time the state has seen fentanyl. Butler said 34 deaths were attributed to the drug last year, but there seems to be a spike right now that is particularly deadly and he urged people to be careful.

“If you use heroin, if you love somebody who is using heroin — a friend or family member — it’s a very risky time because of what’s available on the street,” said Butler.” You may not be aware of what’s in it and it may contain fentanyl.”

KTVA Extra

Dr. Jay Butler further discusses the recent increase in fentanyl-related deaths in Alaska and the science behind what makes the drug so deadly.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Jet owned by Elvis sold for $430,000 at auction

    by Associated Press on May 27, 19:09

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley has been auctioned after sitting on a runway in New Mexico for 35 years. GWS Auctions Inc. says the plane sold for $430,000 on Saturday at a California event featuring celebrity memorabilia. The auction house says Elvis designed the interior that has gold-tone […]

  • Politics

    Judge dismisses lawsuit against Clinton by Benghazi families

    by Associated Press on May 27, 19:02

    WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton filed by the parents of two Americans killed in the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington says the former secretary of state didn’t defame the parents when disputing allegations that she had lied. The […]

  • News

    Remains of Arkansas soldier killed in Colony Glacier plane crash returned home

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 27, 18:52

    An Arkansas National Guardsman who was killed in plane crash in Alaska 65 years ago has finally made it home. Staff Sgt. Robert Dale Van Fossen was laid to rest Saturday in Little Rock. Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson ordered flags lowered to half mast in Van Fossen’s honor. His remains were found among the wreckage of […]

  • News

    Historic planes head to Dutch Harbor to mark 75th anniversary of Aleutians battle

    by Dave Leval on May 27, 18:43

    John Pletcher’s invitation is too good to ignore — a chance for myself to get back in the sky for the first time in a while. It takes his JRF-5 Grumman Goose just seconds to take flight at Anchorage’s Merrill Field, then it’s off to Dutch Harbor, to take part in the 75th anniversary of […]

  • News

    NTSB investigating separate fatal crashes near Fairbanks, Haines

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 27, 14:46

    Last updated at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 27 Two people are confirmed dead and one is in critical condition following a fatal plane crash near the small Southeast Alaska community of Haines. Alaska State Troopers (AST) confirmed 29-year-old David Kunat of Juneau and an unnamed adult male passenger from California were killed in the crash. Chan Valentine, […]

  • News

    Feds to gain control over Kuskokwim king salmon management

    by Associated Press on May 27, 12:55

    BETHEL, Alaska (AP) – Starting next month, the management of king salmon on a southwestern Alaska river will transfer from state control to federal. KYUK-AM reports that as of June 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin to oversee the salmon living on lower and middle Kuskokwim River. Under federal law, the switch is […]

  • Lifestyle

    Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band dies at age 69

    by Associated Press on May 27, 11:53

    SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – A publicist for rock legend Gregg Allman says the organist and singer for The Allman Brothers Band has died. He was 69. Ken Weinstein confirmed Saturday that Allman died at his home in Savannah, Georgia. Allman had cancelled some 2016 tour dates for health reasons. In March 2017, he canceled performances […]

  • Man hurling racial slurs kills 2 on Portland train

    by Associated Press on May 27, 10:35

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Latest on a stabbing on a Portland, Oregon, train that left two dead (all times local): 4:53 p.m. The FBI and U.S. Attorney for Oregon are working with police in Portland to investigate the fatal stabbing of two men on a light-rail train who authorities say intervened when another man […]