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Tainted Drugs Probed in USC Student Deaths

Opioid overdose suspected in at least one case
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2019 8:15 AM CST
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People walk at the University Village area of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on March 12, 2019.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

(Newser) – Tainted drugs may explain some of the nine student deaths at USC this semester. No link has been confirmed yet and autopsies and toxicology tests are pending, but investigators are exploring whether contaminated drugs contributed to some of the deaths of the nine males, reports the Los Angeles Times. Though one occurred during a traffic accident and three are considered suicides, officials suspect at least one death is linked to an opioid overdose, per the Daily Trojan. "We're doubling down on educating [students]" and "talking about the real risks of mixing opioids and prescription drugs and alcohol because we are concerned about that," USC President Carol Folt tells the Times.

"We need you to be aware of the dangers posed by drug use," warns a school letter emailed to students this week, reports CBS Los Angeles. "In particular, we want you to be informed on the dangers of abusing opioids." The letter went out the day after one of the nine students was found dead off campus. The threat is real, says Caleb Alexander of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. "There's no corner of the US that's been spared from the opioid epidemic, and college students are clearly vulnerable," he says. Adds Folt: "We all know that people that get drugs on the street have no idea what is in those drugs." (More on the deaths here.)

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