Cheap and profitable fentanyl is proving to be a killer

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The state Senate public safety committee has been holding hearings on a bill that would crack down on the transport and sale of a drug called fentanyl. It’s a potent pain killer that’s said to be 50 times more powerful than morphine. It’s so dangerous that healthcare workers take strict precautions to make sure it doesn’t get on their skin.

Fentanyl was behind a rash of deaths in Orange County last year. And in just the past couple of weeks, it’s been connected to nearly 50 overdoses and at least 10 deaths in the Sacramento area. The situation has become so serious that Sacramento County’s health director has declared a local health emergency.

Claudia Buck is a health reporter and has been covering the story for the Sacramento Bee. She spoke with KCRW’s Chery Glaser, who asked her what exactly is fentanyl: