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Arizona's poison centers warn of spike in fentanyl overdoses

Officials from the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center said they've seen a "significant increase" in poisonings related to illicit fentanyl.

PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.

Arizona's two poison centers have seen a significant increase in overdoses related to illicit fentanyl tablets and are warning the public to stay away from counterfeit pills. 

Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, said the center is partnering with state and county agencies to ramp up public awareness on the dangers of fentanyl. 

“Fentanyl is the most common adulterant (substance) in almost all street drugs in our community right now, and even in very small amounts can be fatal,” Brooks said in a statement. 

Law enforcement has been seizing large quantities of fentanyl across Arizona in recent months, as investigators attempt to prevent residents from buying counterfeit pills laced with fatal doses of illicit fentanyl.  

Between May 2020 and April 2021, nearly 100,300 people across the country died from a drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report details that overdose deaths jumped 28.5% in Arizona during the same time frame and has nearly doubled over the past five years.

Arizona has poison centers in Phoenix and Tucson that can help residents determine what type of care they need if they've been exposed to a toxic chemical or medication. 

Steve Dudley, the poison center's managing director, said more than five Arizonans are dying each day from opioid-related overdoses. 

“Now more than ever, we need to promote harm-reduction strategies to prevent these overdoses, and that’s what we aim to do with the OAR Line," Dudley said in a statement.

The Arizona Opioid Assistance and Referral Line, or OAR, can provide free assistance 24/7 for the public and health care professionals at 1-888-688-4222. 

RELATED: 35,000 fentanyl pills, $300,000 in cash seized in drug bust in West Valley

RELATED: Glendale drug trafficker gets 13 years for distributing fentanyl

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