- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Following three drug overdose deaths from fentanyl, police said Friday they are investigating the source of the painkiller in Vermont with law enforcement partners in surrounding states and federal partners in the Drug Enforcement Administration.

No street seizures of drugs have tested positive for fentanyl, according to Maj. Glen Hall Jr. of the Vermont State Police. Vermont State Police released a warning Wednesday that fentanyl was being sold as heroin and health officials confirmed Thursday there were three overdose deaths in Addison County last month.

Police could not provide details regarding the ongoing investigation of the three deaths, but they said that the deaths occurred in three different towns.

The drug is 50 times more powerful than heroin, Vermont officials said.

“Heroin users may not know they are shooting up fentanyl, or they may not know just how deadly it is,” said state Health Commissioner Harry Chen said at a press conference on Friday. “Even a very small amount of pure fentanyl, just a few grains, can stop your breathing and kill.”

A Vermont law allows people to call 911 without fear of prosecution on drug charges in the event of an overdose, officials said.

Chen noted that there’s also a pilot program in White River Junction and Burlington that dispense an antidote for drug overdoses. The state is looking into having public safety officers carry the antidote, Chen said.

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