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Michael Tata, a prominently featured and popular staff member shown on the Discovery Channel's American Casino, was found dead July 6 at his home in Henderson, NV. However, the cause of death could not be determined until toxicology test results were received. Those results are now in. Toxicology tests revealed evidence of the drug Fentanyl, a powerful pain medicine often used by cancer patients. The drug slows down respiratory functions and carries a warning not to be ingested with alcohol. The tests confirm that Tata died from a combination of the painkiller fentanyl and alcohol. His death has been ruled accidental.
However, those close to Tata say that the young executive had never reported having any form of cancer, nor did he show any symptoms of the disease. In fact, the work schedule he maintained suggested he was in perfect health.
The combination of fentanyl and alcohol has been referred on the club scene as a "Las Vegas Cocktail" in the suddenly-burgeoning prescription drug black market. Six to eight months ago, the "Las Vegas cocktail" was a blend of OxyContin and Soma, a prescription muscle relaxant. Now, the "cocktail" has morphed into a combination of Soma, Viagra and Fentanyl--a raspberry-flavored lollipop that delivers a narcotic commonly considered to be 80-100 times more powerful than morphine. Add a little cocaine, as is common, and you have a potentially lethal concoction that Detective Paul DeAngelis told the Las Vegas Mercury, "will (a) keep you up all night and (b) probably make your heart explode." DeAngelis is a Southern Nevada Pharmaceutical Narcotics Enforcement Team member, who adds, "The prescription (drug) problem in Nevada absolutely dwarfs that of illicit drugs,"
UMC clinical pharmacist Don Frisch concurs to the Associated Press that fentanyl can turn deadly if it's used recreationally, especially if alcohol is added to the mix, "When used in combination with other respiratory depressants, like alcohol or valium, you can actually have an enhanced effect on the respiratory system -- leading to death," Frisch said.
According to police reports, Tata had consumed both vodka and a stick of fentanyl shortly before his death. Again, they say it was an accidental death.
An episode on Sept. 3 will pay tribute to Michael Tata. Fans of the show are invited to make contributions to the Michael J. Tata Scholarship which will benefit the UNLV hotel administration program of which Tata was a graduate.
fenatyl is dangerous, mixing is dangerous, no matter how responsable you may think you are you always run the risk of loosing your inhibitions after being intoxicated on a substance and taking it too far.