Lethal drug poses new threat to the opioid epidemic

Forget heroin and fentanyl. Drug enforcement officers have a new opioid on their radar — an elephant tranquilizer that's 10,000 times more powerful than morphine.

Authorities are concerned that carfentanil — the most potent commercial opioid in the world — could enter the North American heroin supply, according to The Washington Post.

In liquid form, carfentanil is odorless and colorless, making it almost impossible for drug users or law enforcement to identify. A dose the size of a grain of salt is powerful enough to kill a person and can even be lethal when absorbed through the skin, said the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Authorities have recently tied carfentanil to an increase in overdoses in several states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Florida.

In July, police indicted a Columbus man for passing off a batch of the drug as heroin, causing nine overdoses and one death.

The spike in overdoses led Mike DeWine, Attorney General of Ohio, to encourage police officers to stop field testing drugs on the scene, since they could be handling substances more potent than they realize.

“It’s just too high of a risk,” said Mr. DeWine to the Columbus Dispatch. “This stuff is just now hitting. You’re really not seeing [police] departments with any experience with it at all.”

More articles on the drug market:

Is the future of drug pricing based on value?
Online market for illegal drugs skyrockets: 6 things to know
FDA seeks to increase access to Naloxone


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