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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
April 21, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Gretchen Michael

NJ Department of Health and Senior Services Warns of Potent Heroin Overdoses in Camden Lead to Increased Surveillance in New Jersey


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is working with the NJ Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) and the New Jersey State Police to track any cases related to a potent form of heroin thought to be involved in a series of overdoses, including two deaths, in the southern part of the state this week.

Early this morning, officials at NJPIES alerted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DHSS that 32 overdoses had been reported in the City of Camden since April 19.††

CDC subsequently issued an alert to health departments across the country.The cases in Maryland and New Jersey may also be linked to an unusually large number of heroin overdoses in Chicago this week.†

Officials believe that very potent heroin is the cause of the overdoses, rather than poisonous agents diluting the drug. After identifying the concentration of the illicit drug as a potential health threat, NJPIES and the DHSS alerted emergency departments and local health departments across the state.

Emergency departments were advised to ask patients diagnosed with a heroin overdose where the heroin was obtained. NJPIES will collect and analyze the information, which will be shared with law enforcement.

NJPIES is affiliated with UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and is located on UMDNJ's Newark campus. New Jersey Poison Information and Education Systemís toll-free poison control hotline is 1-800-222-1222.

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