SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Almost three-quarters of San Francisco’s accidental drug overdose deaths this year involved the drug fentanyl, according to data released by the office of the chief medical examiner Monday.

319 of this year’s 451 accidental drug overdose deaths, 71% of the total, involved fentanyl. Fifty-five percent involved methamphetamine, 40% involved cocaine, 10% involved heroin and 8% involved medicinal opioids. (If a drug overdose is due to multiple drugs, it is counted under each drug.)

The city lost 55 people to drug overdoses last month alone; District 6 (South of Market) Supervisor Matt Dorsey’s office stated in a press release that 1,817 San Franciscans have been killed by drug overdoses since Jan. 2020, almost twice the 1,052 who’ve died of COVID-19 in the same time span.

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“The gravity of the ongoing public health calamity we face demands that we reject the failed status quo, and make real progress on strategies to incentivize recovery, disrupt open-air drug scenes, and hold street-level drug dealers criminally accountable,” Dorsey, who has been open about his struggle with drug use, stated. “No one is served by tired ‘drug warrior’ rhetoric that draws false equivalencies between yesterday’s draconian marijuana sentencing and today’s potently lethal opioids like fentanyl, which last month killed nearly three-quarters of the San Franciscans we lost to drug overdoses. We don’t need a war on anything. We need sustained public policies and programs, which are citywide, well coordinated, and based on successful approaches in other cities in the U.S., Canada and Europe that are showing us where real progress is possible.”  

Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate, is between 30-50 times stronger than heroin. A 3-milligram dose is enough to kill an average adult male, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

It is believed to be the cause of more than three-quarters of all U.S. drug overdose deaths, of which there were over 100,000 in 2021 alone.

“Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat we face today,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Acting Special Agent in Charge Jacob D. Galvan from the Seattle Field Division has stated. “It doesn’t matter what color, shape or form it comes in; just two milligrams of fentanyl – the equivalent of 10 to 15 grains of salt – is enough to kill someone.