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Warning after 'concerning number of drug users admitted to Borders General Hospital over the weekend'

Posted on 4/12/2017 by


Health chiefs suspect deadly batch of heroin could be to blame

It's 100 times more potent than morphine and has been linked to a number of deaths across the country in recent months.

Now police fear fentanyl - a drug which is normally prescribed as a painkiller for the terminally-ill - could be behind a number of admissions to Borders General Hospital over the weekend.

NHS Borders is issuing a warning to drug users to beware of a potentially deadly batch of heroin which has been laced with the synthetic opioid.

The health board says the potency means investigating officers need to wear protective clothing to handle the substance.

A spokesperson said: "NHS Borders has seen a small but concerning number of drug users admitted to the Borders General Hospital over the weekend. Information from Police Scotland suggests that there could be be some mixing of heroin laced with synthetic opioids, possibly fentanyl.

"It is sometimes prescribed legally as a painkiller for the terminally ill in the form of a skin patch or nasal spray. Fentanyl is approximately 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Tiny quantities are potentially fatal, even to touch."

Drug users are being warned to look out for the warning signs.

Chris Faldon, Nurse Consultant Health Protection at the health board, said: "Those in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids. They should watch carefully for the signs of an overdose.

"Symptoms include trouble breathing or shallow breathing; tiredness; extreme sleepiness or sedation; inability to think, walk, or talk normally; and feeling faint, dizzy, or confused.

"Be prepared to call 999 immediately for an ambulance if someone overdoses and administer naloxone (the drug used to reverse the effects of heroin overdoses) if available and competent to do so."

For more information on harm reduction see NHS Borders Addictions Service website or telephone 01896 664430.

Source: PlanetRadio