6 things to know about carfentanil: The deadly opioid invading the U.S.

Carfentanil, the most potent commercial opioid in the world, is making its way into the U.S. drug supply, causing a string of accidental overdoses and deaths.


Here are six things to know about the drug:

  1. Carfentanil is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. As a reference, fentanyl, the powerful opioid linked to Prince's death, is 50 times more powerful than morphine, reported CNN.

  2. The synthetic opioid is not approved for human use, but is used commercially to sedate large animals. A 2 milligram dose of carfentanil can knock out a 2,000 pound elephant. Veterinarians who handle the drug wear protective gloves, masks and aprons, as it can be lethal even when absorbed through the skin, according to The Washington Post.

  1. Just 10 milligrams of the drug — less than the weight of a paper clip — could kill 500 people, reported The Wasington Post.

  2. Drug dealers are cutting carfentanil into heroin to stretch supply and produce a more intense, longer high, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Often, users do not even know they are taking the drug, reported CNN.

  3. Ohio is feeling the impacts of carfentanil the most. In July, Hamilton County officials issued a public health warning about the drug after 35 overdoses and six deaths occurred within a three-day period, according to CNN.  

  4. Usually, one or two shots of the anti-overdose drug naloxone can counteract a heroin overdose, said The Washington Post. For a carfentanil overdose,a minimum of six shots are necessary.

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