Powerful new drug blamed for spike in opioid-related deaths

CHICAGO (WGN) -- A powerful new drug on the street called acryl-fentanyl is being blamed for more than 40 opioid-related deaths in the Chicago area this year alone.

The Cook County Medical Examiner says it's more powerful then heroin, warning residents the drug is out there, it's easy to get and it can be fatal almost instantly.

An ER doctor at Stroger Hospital, Dr. Steven Aks said this new fentanyl analog can kill without any early symptoms or warnings. Aside from small pupils and a shortness of breath Dr. Aks says symptoms are hard to detect.

Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Ponni Arunkumar said this year alone there have been 40 deaths related to this fentanyl prototype. For all of 2016 there were only seven.

The number of fatalities in Cook County may only go up. It takes several weeks, sometimes months for toxicology reports to come back to the medical examiner's office. They've seen such a dramatic rise in the number of these cases that they've issued an alert to first responders and the general public to warn of the dangers of this powerful new drug.

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Powerful new acryl-fentanyl blamed for spike in opioid-related deaths in Chicago area
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