NJ.com: Tainted heroin kills 6, N.J. issues warning about 3 deadly brands


Stephen Stirling | NJ Advance Media for NJ.comBy Stephen Stirling | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 
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on January 08, 2015 at 1:21 PM, updated January 08, 2015 at 1:22 PM
strike dead.jpgPolice say wax folds of heroin stamped "Strike Dead," "Taliban" and "Power Hour" have been responsible for several deaths in New Jersey. 

State officials from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York have identified three highly lethal brands of drugs that have been responsible for at least six overdose deaths recently, the latest twist in the state's ongoing battle with heroin and opioid abuse.

State police said wax folds stamped "Power Hour," "Taliban," and "Strike Dead" being sold as heroin have been found to contain a highly potent and dangerous mix of drugs not typically seen in the Garden State. Some of the brands contain no heroin at all, authorities said.

Additionally, Narcan, a highly effective opioid antidote that has saved the lives of hundreds of overdose victims since April 2014, has been found to be ineffective in treating some of these drug brands. Authorities said users may be unaware they are purchasing a potentially lethal mix of drugs.

The warning comes days after an NJ Advance Media report about fentanyl, a powerful and potentially deadly opioid that has been found more frequently in doses of heroin in the Garden State. It was not immediately clear if fentanyl was found in the three brands of drugs identified by authorities.

Heroin and opioid abuse has been called the New Jersey's number one health crisis by state officials and has been responsible for the death of more than 5,000 people since 2004, according to state statistics.

The drugs were identified through the Drug Monitoring Initiative, a collaboration between various agencies within New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, which can help quickly identify and disseminate information about dangerous drug mixtures found on New Jersey streets.

“Nothing less than an all-out, multi-disciplinary approach will suffice to address the crisis of heroin abuse in New Jersey that is destroying lives and ripping apart our families and communities,” said Acting Attorney General Jay Hoffman. “The Drug Monitoring Initiative is a common sense, life-saving program that sounds the alarm when we identify lethal drug brands being peddled on our streets.”

Authorities said the warning was issued in hopes of reaching drug users who are potentially in possession of the drug brands and may not know of their contents or potency.

“Since early last year, we have taken a fresh approach to combating the heroin epidemic in the region based on information sharing from the local through the federal levels. When we learn of clusters of drug overdoses, we immediately alert our law enforcement partners with details of the threat,” said Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We are first and foremost interested in saving lives, and that is what this early notification protocol is all about.”

Stephen Stirling may be reached at sstirling@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @sstirling. Find him on Facebook.