Fentanyl on the rise on the Suncoast

ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 7:49 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Experts are warning the public of a sharp increase of the drug fentanyl in Sarasota, DeSoto, and Manatee Counties.

According to the Medical Examiners Commission, there were a total of 224 deaths involving fentanyl in 2020. They say the ages with the highest number of deaths were between 35-50 years-old reaching 104.

Just last week emergency crews responded to a house on the 3100 block of Rose Street in Sarasota County where four people overdosed.

Amanda Merkel is the Director of Emergency Services of First Step Sarasota. She said many of the people they serve took a drug unaware that it was laced with fentanyl.

“There’s been times that the individual identified they thought they used cocaine and fentanyl was also in that. Which they’re all very heavy drugs for use for the body but fentanyl has been seen to cause higher affects for the patients,” said Merkel.

Merkel is of the opinion that the death rate of fentanyl has likely increased since the 2020 Medical Examiners Commission report due to the volume see’s seeing at her facility.

“From my perspective I would say it’s increased. But, I would say it’s increased with being laced rather than that specific drug alone,” she said.

First Step of Sarasota is receiving funding for a 24 hour access to care facility from the state to help battle these types of issues. They hope to see it built later this year.