Wisconsin Public Radio

21 Likely Drug Deaths In One Week

County Medical Examiner's Office on pace to handle 500 overdose deaths this year.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Feb 26th, 2020 11:53 am
Fentanyl pills. Photo from the DEA.

Fentanyl pills. Photo from the DEA.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office responded to six probable overdose deaths in a span of less than six hours Monday.

The office that investigates nearly 7,000 deaths and performs autopsies for multiple counties in southern Wisconsin sent out a tweet Tuesday morning with the news stating the victims ranged from ages 36 to 64.

Sara Schreiber, the forensic technical director for the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, said all the cases were in Milwaukee County and that the trend is increasing at a very fast pace.

“Yes, the trend is there,” Schreiber said. “This is part of a bigger picture that in the last week we’ve seen 21 probable drug deaths. And as this new year turned, and we’re only to nearing the end of February, and we are on par to surpass 500 cases if this pace continues. It is a very significant start to the 2020 year.”

In July, the office responded to 14 drug overdoses over the course of one weekend — five in under five hours on a Saturday, and three under an hour on Sunday.

The office is still reviewing the most recent cases. Schreiber said toxicology reports will be ready to review in the next few weeks. It’s unclear if any of the cases are related or clustered together. Schreiber explained if these cases follow the trend, fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin, will likely be involved.

“In most cases it is truly fentanyl and not another fentanyl analog,” Schreiber said. “What’s definitely growing though in combination (with) fentanyl very frequently is cocaine and that has come and made drastic increases in numbers in the last couple of years.”

Two weeks ago, the office announced Milwaukee had 407 fatal drug overdoses in 2019. There were 384 fatal drug overdoses in 2018 and 401 in 2017.

“We keep telling the story,” Schreiber said. “Hopefully if it falls on the right ears at the right time we’re definitely going to help somebody out to make the right decision.”

Listen to the WPR report here.

Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office Responds To 6 Probable Overdose Deaths In Less Than 6 Hours was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

One thought on “21 Likely Drug Deaths In One Week”

  1. Paul Mozina says:

    Sadly, as of February 21, 2020 , Dr. Brian Peterson, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner reports 414 drug-related deaths in 2019. Here is a link to the most recent spreadsheet he published.

    I spoke regarding this at the Milwaukee City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force Meeting on February 14, 2020 . You can watch my testimony here: https://youtu.be/V3dw3An6pgU

    And here is a link to the document I presented to the Task Force making the case to stop the War on Drugs:

    And finally, here is a link to video of Dr. Brian Peterson presenting the 2019 drug-related death information to the Milwaukee County Intergovernmental Cooperation Council on February 10, 2020:

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