WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – U.S. Attorney Bill Powell says it’s time for a permanent ban on fentanyl analogues.

Powell says that almost 50,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2017. To put that number into perspective, that’s nearly twice the size of the population here in Wheeling.

Powell says many of these overdose deaths are due to illegally-produced fentanyl and it’s analogues.

“While fentanyl is regulated, fentanyl analogues, which is almost like fentanyl but a few molecules are different and depending on who is making it can make it in any form they want,” Powell told 7News. “That has not been restricted until the last two years, when the DEA put it on the emergency stop list. You can’t deal with it and it’s banned. That two-year ban runs out February 6 at midnight.”

Powell mentioned that fentanyl does have some legitimate medical uses and is available lawfully only by a prescription.

He adds that illicit fentanyl is typically manufactured in labs in China and Mexico before being smuggled into the U.S. It is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. Just a couple of milligrams are enough to kill the average person.

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