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Ohio BCI warns of spike in new form of fentanyl

Para-fluorofentanyl is more potent
Posted at 5:55 PM, Mar 18, 2022

AKRON, Ohio — Brenda Ryan, a mother from Cuyahoga Falls, monitors the ever-changing street drugs that are leading to overdoses and taking lives.

While many people have not heard of para-fluorofentanyl, Ryan is well aware that it's the newest risk.

"This is chemical warfare. This isn't even drugs. This is poison," Ryan said. "When people are injecting it, they're not even getting the whole injection in before they're succumbing to an overdose."

Ryan knows the pain of losing a loved one to dangerous drugs.

In 2016, her 31-year-old daughter, Sheena Moore, died from a pure fentanyl overdose.

"She had a relapse and it resulted in her first and fatal overdose," Ryan said.

BCI, through the Ohio Attorney General's Office, sent out a bulletin to law enforcement about para-fluorofentanyl concerns, which continue to grow.

It's an analogue of Fentanyl and is considered more potent. The bulletin pointed out para-fluorofentanyl is increasingly seen in combination with other drugs contributing to overdoses, including the high-profile case involving actor Michael Williams.

"We were really trying to give people a warning of there's something new out there, something on the streets that we want to make sure the public is aware of," said Jon Sprague, the director of science and research for the AG's office.

The number of para-fluorofentanyl cases confirmed in BCI labs has risen dramatically since last year.

In February of 2021, there were only eight cases. By September, the number jumped to 130. December saw 174 cases, and this past February, BCI reported 217 cases.

"Most of these things are coming right now from Mexico. The Mexican cartels are shipping these things into the United States," Sprague said.

Sprague told News 5 that the relatively new dangerous drugs are often "cut" or added into other drugs. They can come in liquid or powder form or even pressed pills. Therefore, users can be fooled on what they are actually taking.

"That's the whole point is that you don't know what you're taking," he said.

Following her daughter's death, Ryan started the nonprofit "Keys to Serenity", a nonprofit which helps children and families affected by addiction.

"So that they know they're not in this alone," Ryan said.

With para-fluorofentanyl, and many other dangerous street drugs, putting lives at risk, Ryan hopes people hear the message before it's too late.

"Get help," she said. "Recovery is possible. I've seen so many people get into recovery."

Among the places to call for help are the Northeast Ohio Addiction Hotline at 1-855-246-LIVE or the Summit County ADM Board Addiction Hotline at 330-940-1133.