St. Tammany Parish coroner concerned about possible tainted drugs leading to deaths
Published 10:53 am Wednesday, July 13, 2022
Two overdose deaths last night from the same drug have St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston concerned that counterfeit prescriptions containing fentanyl and/or other toxic substances are being traded illicitly.
Overnight, a 15-year-old died from ingesting several pills, and a 22-year-old died from taking only one pill. While toxicology tests are being conducted, Preston is being proactive.
“While we can’t yet conclusively say what caused these deaths, relatively small amounts of Percocet are not typically fatal,” Preston said. “I am very concerned that our community may be experiencing illicit drug trade that involves intentionally tainted pills. Additionally, we have seen deaths related to ingestion of counterfeit Adderall, Xanax, marijuana, cocaine, and other pain pills. In other parts of the country, Fentanyl has even been detected in vape fluid. The number of cases is escalating rapidly, and we consider this to be a pending healthcare emergency.”
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office is attempting to expedite toxicology tests of any drugs or residue recovered from the scenes to make a thorough and accurate determination about what caused these fatalities.
“We constantly repeat the mantra that ‘one pill can kill,’ and it’s no exaggeration,” Preston said. “For those using illicit drugs or battling addiction, now is the time to seek help. With more and more evidence of altered prescriptions being peddled, this is no time to experiment or take chances with your life.”