Overdose fatality linked to ‘purple heroin’ in Van Buren County

VAN BUREN COUNTY — Van Buren Community Mental Health and Van Buren/Cass District Health Department recently received news of a fatal overdose involving the drug Brorphine, also known as “purple heroin,” in Van Buren County.

This is the first known fatal overdose involving Brorphine occurring in Michigan. The death was detected by the WMU Medical Examiner Office and toxicology results were also positive for Fentanyl.

Brorphine is a potent synthetic opioid that is structurally similar to Fentanyl. It was first synthesized and reported in 2018 and is thought to have a similar potency to that of Fentanyl. As of mid-July, there have been seven blood specimens from decedents confirmed to have Brorphine in the U.S. It has been reported that most Brorphine samples seized by Michigan State Police have been grey in color but it is unknown if colors are distinct by region.  It is unknown if Brorphine found in Michigan that is purple is arriving already colored or if local dealers are adding coloring to brand their product.

At this time, the health department is asking community partners and healthcare professionals to be aware of the new substance and the increased risk it brings, and to help make naloxone available to people who use substances. It is unclear if naloxone (also known as Narcan) will work to reverse the effects of Brorphine.

“We continue to encourage the use of naloxone as Brorphine has been found to be combined with opiates, such as Fentanyl,” said Danielle Persky, health promotions director.

Organizations or individuals interested in receiving a naloxone kit and training for how to administer naloxone can contact Van Buren County Mental Health Prevention Services at (269) 655-3391 or email prevention@vbcmh.com.

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