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Fentanyl found in cocaine sample, Durham police say

Three days after police issued a warning about the "devastating impact" related to fentanyl, they say traces of it were found in cocaine seized at the scene of a near-fatal overdose.

Traces of deadly drug found in cocaine seized at scene of near-fatal overdose, police say

Fentanyl, shown here in pill form, can be extremely lethal when it's altered or mixed into other recreational drugs, police warn. (Canadian Press)

Three days after police issued a warning about the "devastating impact" related to fentanyl, they say traces of it were found in cocaine seized at the scene of a near-fatal overdose.

In a statement issued Thursday, Durham Regional Police said its officers helped paramedics in Ajax with a man last weekend "who had become unresponsive after inhaling cocaine."

They said a sample of the drug was sent for testing and that fentanyl, "a powerful synthetic opioid 40 times more potent than heroin," was found in the sample.

They say investigators are trying to determine if this incident is related to other reported overdoses in Durham Region last weekend.

Fentanyl was originally developed as an anesthetic used during surgery. Around the turn of the millennium it became available as a small patch — the size of a Band-Aid — that allowed the medication to be released through the skin over time. It is typically used used treat patients with cancer and severe chronic pain.

Police say those patches sell on the street for $200 each. They say abusers tamper with the patches, scraping off and dividing the drug to produce more sales.

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