By Lee Mijares
A deadly drug used to sedate large animals such as elephants has been spotted on sale along the streets of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio.
This powerful opioid is known as Carfentanil and was reported to be available among local suppliers according to the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition.
Carfentanil 100 times stronger than fentanyl
Buyers are warned against the use of Carfentanil which is reported to be 100 times more potent than fentanyl an analgesic responsible for the surge of overdose deaths. The synthetic opioid is also known to be 10,000 times stronger compared to morphine sold on the streets and has been blamed to be the cause of the recent increase in overdoses in the Columbus and Akron areas.
According to Akron police, there were 25 overdoses in a three-day period, 4 of these were fatal. Columbus police meanwhile reported 10 overdoses in a nine-hour period, 2 of these were fatal.
Carfentanil is actually a synthetic opiate used by veterinarians to sedate large animals. Because of its strength, vets who are licensed to use the drug cover their arms, hands and faces during procedures. An antidote for the drug is also kept closely nearby in case of an accidental injection or ingestion.
Dangers of Carfentanil
Experts warned against the danger of Carfentanil mixed in or as a substitute for heroin that are being sold in the streets. In 2014 and 2015, numerous areas in Ohio reported fentanyl overdose because the drug was substituted for heroin. Deaths due to fentanyl overdose continued to increase until the first months of 2016.
More problems to come
Dr. Adam Bisaga said that as Carfentanil becomes more popular and affordable than heroin, it could push the drug out of the streets and pose more health threats. "This might be the new epidemic as heroin is pushed out of the market," he said.
"Need for cheap, easily distributable opioids, need for replacing the licensed pain medicine that are being less prescribed in a form of impostor or forged pills containing other opioids," Bisaga further said. "I suspect that many painkillers people take and believe they are real medicine are the fake ones."
Bisaga also cited that this won't be easy to stop despite warning the public about the dangers of the drug. He said that there is an unending source of synthetic opioids from China.
Police still in the dark about Carfentanil amounts and manufacturing methods
Police are still unaware of the actual quantity of the opioid in the market and the manufacturing process that is being used by manufacturers and suppliers. Tom Synan, Newtown Police Chief said, "We must use extreme caution in the field and in treatment facilities." He advised law enforcement and respondents to the field to stop testing of the drugs for the time being.