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ECDOH issues warning following five suspected overdose deaths in 24 hours

Posted at 7:15 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 19:15:43-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) has issued a warning to residents after five suspected overdose deaths in the county in 24 hours.

"These cases are pending toxicology reports, but ECDOH strongly suspects that cocaine and opioids like fentanyl were involved in these deaths," a release says.

According to ECDOH, of the 15 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in the county so far in 2021, 7 involved cocaine. There are 70 additional cases pending toxicology results.

ECDOH says from 2019 to 2020 the county experienced a 57% increase in confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths.

“When we see five overdose related deaths in one day, we have to alert our community,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Harm reduction tools and our warning – don’t trust your cocaine – can help prevent these tragic deaths. To our community, please, get a Narcan kit and learn how to use it.”

ECDOH says it will provide free Narcan to anyone on request, "if you or someone in your life uses opioids or cocaine, ECDOH urges you to request a free Narcan kit or obtain Narcan or naloxone from a pharmacy."

Below is some helpful information from ECDOH.

  • If you are seeking help, the Buffalo and Erie County Crisis Services Addiction Hotline is available 24/7 at (716) 831-7007.
  • If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, please make sure you carry Narcan (naloxone) at all times.
  • ECDOH’s "Text for Narcan” program has expanded access to free Narcan kits. Erie County residents can text (716) 225-5473 and we will provide you with Narcan, no questions asked.
  • Free Narcan kits are available from ECDOH staff and at outreach events throughout the county.
  • Free emergency Narcan boxes are available for businesses and organizations to install in accessible areas in their facility. ECDOH will resupply these boxes with free Narcan kits as needed. Call (716) 858-7695.
  • ECDOH produced a short video on How to Save a Life with Narcan. Watch the eight-minute training on their Erie County YouTube channel here.