BROOKLYN - Three Brooklyn residents are among at least 17 New Yorkers who have died over the last four months as a result of an overdose of illegal drugs mixed with a prescription painkiller.

Fentanyl is known as an extremely powerful painkiller that is largely used in anesthesia and for some cancer patients. Doctors say when fentanyl is combined with drugs like cocaine and heroin it can be deadly.

City officials say most of the recent deaths were among men between the ages of 30 and 53. Police officials say fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs in certain illegal labs and those who purchase the drugs are unaware of the mixture. The NYC police commissioner says detectives are making special efforts to identify sources of heroin laced with fentanyl.

Related Information:Harm Reduction Coalition - (212) 213-6376Poison Control - 1-800-222-1222 or (212) 764-7667 (POISONS)