Carfentanil and Other Drugs in Disguise

LEONARDTOWN, MD (July 3, 2017) – St. Mary’s County continues to experience a tragic and deadly opioid drug epidemic. Opioid drug intoxication deaths in the county have involved prescription opioids, heroin, fentanyl, and now carfentanil. Most St. Mary’s County opioid related drug intoxication deaths thus far in calendar year 2017 have involved fentanyl.

The first drug intoxication fatality related to carfentanil in St. Mary’s County was identified in June 2017. To date, there have been 35 confirmed drug intoxication deaths related to carfentanil in Maryland. Carfentanil has been traditionally utilized as a tranquilizer for large animals (e.g., elephants) and is about 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which itself is several times more potent that heroin and morphine.  Even very tiny amounts of fentanyl and carfentanil can cause a person to die.

Naloxone (“Narcan”) may help reverse the breathing problem that an opioid overdose creates and can save a person’s life. However, sometimes even multiple doses of naloxone are not enough to save the life of a person overdosing on opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil.

Fentanyl or carfentanil may be lacing drugs that are sold in the street as heroin or other drugs. Counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl or carfentanil have also been identified in Maryland communities.  Sometimes drug sellers and drug buyers may not be aware that the drugs they are dealing with contain these very lethal opioid drugs of fentanyl or carfentanil.

U-47700 is another synthetic opioid drug that has been associated with less than 20 fatalities in Maryland thus far.  It is also known as “Pink” or “U4” and has been identified as being far more potent than morphine.  As with fentanyl and carfentanil, U-47700 may be disguised in drugs sold on the street as heroin, fentanyl, or prescription opioids.

Prescription drugs should only be used when medically prescribed to you and when dispensed by a state licensed pharmacist. Drugs obtained on the street or internet, even those sold as prescription drugs, may be laced with incredibly lethal opioids such as fentanyl, carfentanil, and U-47700.

The health department urges anyone using opioid drugs for non-medical purposes and anyone concerned about their drug use to seek immediate medical assessment. Effective treatment is available and can restore your life. Get you or your loved one the help they need from a substance use treatment provider.

Learn more and get help to find a treatment provider at www.smchd.org/opioid or by calling (301) 475-4330.

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