The Midwest communities have witnessed a rise in overdoses from a powerful elephant tranquilizer. The deadly drug, Carfentanil is to blame for an unfortunate record of overdose deaths. Officials in Ohio declared this a public health emergency. The FDA warns communities everywhere to be on the look out for carfentanil.
The synthetic drug is 100 times as potent as fentanyl, a prescription painkiller. The painkiller led to the death of pop star Prince. Fentanyl is up to 50 times as deadly as heroin.
Over the course of the last few years, illegal drug traffickers have started to use fentanyl instead of heroin and other opioids. Now it is sold on the streets mixed with heroin or made into pills which can be mistaken for prescription drugs. Many users have no idea that what they’re buying could lead to their death, as carfentanil does.
Tom Synan, director of a Heroin Task Force and also a police chief, says that the situation worsened. Before it used to be four or five doses a day. Now, it’s gone up to 20, 30, even 50 overdoses in one day.
Synan points out that carfentanil first appeared in Cincinnati in July. Sometimes, the overdoses are too many for police to cope with.
Efforts on the police part were heroic. One district had 14 overdoses in one shift.
Those who rush to the scene, like emergency room workers and responders should wear protective gloves and masks. Carfentanil is so potent, a simple touch or inhalation could be life threatening.
Back in 2002, a hostage situation in a theater in Moscow went wrong. To defeat the Chechens who had taken control of the theater, Russian forces sprayed a chemical aerosol inside the building. Over 100 hostages died as a result. Lab tests done by British investigators revealed that the aerosol included carfentanil.
Ohio Health Commissioner Tim Ingram says the body metabolizes carfentanil in hours. This gives a longer-lasting high, for those who survive it.
So emergency rescue teams use more Naloxone. They want to distribute a more concentrated version.
The carfentanil available on the streets is used to sedate large animals. It is illegally imported from China.
Mexican traffickers sell it for huge profits because it only takes a grain to give you the high.
Police officers say that it’s easier to make illegal drugs in a lab, rather than growing poppies- which is much riskier. So they expect more synthetic drugs to hit the streets from now on.
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