Fentanyl Deaths, Milwaukee Landlord Practices, Proposed Changes For Manure Runoff

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Heard On Central Time

Fentanyl has been making its way into the illegal drug market, and caused 18 deaths in Wisconsin this year. We learn what fentanyl is and why even a small amount can be deadly. The Milwaukee rental market can be a challenge to navigate, and city officials are looking to address questionable practices by some landlords. We find out what renters are up against. Plus, the details on proposed changes to DNR guidelines on manure spreading that aim to protect groundwater from contamination.

Featured in this Show

  • What Is Fentanyl?

    In 2017 so far, 18 deaths have been blamed on a derivative of fentanyl. We learn about what fentanyl is and how it’s changing the illicit drug market in Wisconsin with an expert from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office.

  • Iterations Of Fentanyl Continue To Raise Number Of Opioid-Related Deaths

    As of Wednesday, 66 deaths in Milwaukee County have been caused by fentanyl, a prescription painkiller up to 50 times stronger than heroin, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s. Eighteen of the 66 deaths are because of a derivative of fentanyl: acryl fentanyl.

    Fentanyl killed 30 people in Milwaukee in 2015, and there were five fentanyl-related deaths in 2012.

    Sara Schreiber of the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office describes fentanyl as a synthetic narcotic analgesic.

    “This means that it’s manmade, it’s a highly potent drug that’s used for the treatment of pain, it’s generally prescribed to individuals who have chronic pain related to cancer or a severe injury,” she explained.

    Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It’s been around since the 1960s in the pharmaceutical world, but it’s not the prescribed fentanyl being found in those who have overdosed — it’s different iterations, Schreiber said.

    “We’re finding what’s being coined as nonpharmaceutical fentanyl, or NPS, in preparations and in individuals,” she said. “Particularly in my office, we’re finding them in decedents who are dying as a fact of exposure to … this drug.”

    The derivatives of fentanyl being found haven’t been formulated for medical use or accepted for medical use, Schreiber said. Instead, they are designed specifically for other purposes.

    “The potency of these drugs is increasing with the different derivatives as they’re identified, and the increased potency is what’s causing trouble for the individuals who are using, especially if they don’t know that they’re receiving that drug in the mixture of the powder that they’re administered,” she said.

    The medical examiner’s office sees iterations of fentanyl in people who have heroin and cocaine in their systems. Schreiber said that of the 66 fentanyl-related deaths in Milwaukee, 22 of them had cocaine and heroin in the body. Though she said that doesn’t necessarily mean the cocaine was tainted with fentanyl.

    “I can’t at this point prove that they weren’t just co-administered, and that the cocaine line is definitely contaminated, because once it’s in the body, it’s just detected as individual compounds,” she explained. The substance or substances called into question can’t be analyzed because they’ve been ingested or cleaned up from the scene.

    While fentanyl is prescribed to treat pain, the substance acts as a central nervous system depressant. Schreiber said that’s where the risk lies for those who abuse fentanyl.

    “The ultimate mechanism (that causes death) really is the respiratory depression, which comes from the use of these drugs,” she said.

    Schreiber said the medical examiner’s office is in contact with other agencies throughout the state and United States to track new fentanyl derivatives or what trends other areas are seeing in fentanyl use.

  • Milwaukee Renters, Rental Market Faces Challenges

    The real estate market in Milwaukee can be challenging to people who’d like to rent in the city. We’ll speak with Cary Spivak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to get an update on some questionable practices some Milwaukee landlords employ and how lawmakers are getting involved.

  • New Proposed Guidelines For Manure Runoff From DNR

    On Friday the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources released proposed rules that require stronger manure management practices in many Wisconsin counties. These rules are aimed at protecting groundwater from contamination. We talk to a water expert from Clean Wisconsin about the guidelines and why his group says they don’t go far enough.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Kate Archer Kent Host
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Sara Schreiber Guest
  • Cary Spivak Guest
  • Scott Laeser Guest