Limerick warning as deaths and overdoses recorded from fake ‘benzos’

The HSE has issued a warning following deaths and overdoses linked to nitazene. Photo: HSE.

TWO deaths and numerous overdoses in Limerick, the Mid West and Dublin have been linked to a lethal drug being sold as a commonly used drug with the street name of ‘benzos’.

The deaths of two men in the midwest and Dublin on Thursday and Friday last are being investigated to see if they are linked to nitazene.

The deaths and and overdoses in the same period have prompted the HSE to issue a warning about the tablets, which are being sold on the street in yellow tablet form as benzodiazepine or ‘benzos’, an opiate drug.

The threat posed by deadly synthetic opiate nitazene has spread across the country, having recently been discovered in the UK and Northern Ireland.

It was originally being sold as a powder claiming to be heroin and is now on the streets in the form of the fake sedative tablets.

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It’s believed that one death is almost certainly linked to the nitazene while toxicology results are awaited on the second.

The HSE issued a warning on Friday night after a number of overdoses in Limerick City and County, Galway and Dublin in recent days.

The highly potent nitazenes – which were responsible for 77 overdoses in Dublin and Cork late last year – have resulted in a new “cluster of overdoses” being recorded in the Mid-West and Galway, as well as Dublin, the HSE says.

Both the HSE and the EU drugs agency have raised concerns over the emergence of nitazenes now being sold as tablets, expanding beyond the heroin market, in which it is sold in powder form to unsuspecting users.

UN and EU agencies have warned that the supply of extremely dangerous synthetic opioids, such as nitazenes, could increase significantly later this year as stockpiles of heroin are depleted, resulting from a ban on the growing of the opium plant in Afghanistan.

The HSE alert said: “We are advising of an extra risk to people who use drugs following a cluster of overdoses in Dublin, Galway and the Mid West. Our National Drug Treatment Centre has confirmed nitazene in yellow, round counterfeit benzodiazepine tablets associated with these overdoses.”

The warning came after the National Drug Treatment Centre confirmed nitazene in yellow, round counterfeit benzodiazepine tablets associated with the overdoses.