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Source: MedicineNet Health News 12/27/2019 2:00 PM
News reports from Washington to Ohio to California to New York have described a deadly new fentanyl analog labeled carfentanil.
Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs are increasingly involved in opioid overdose deaths, and coroners and police continue to identify new fentanyl analogs. Carfentanil is the most potent fentanyl analog detected in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Carfentanil has contributed to the overdose deaths of hundreds of drug users.
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, according to the US Department of Justice (DEA). Carfentanil is used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other large mammals.
The lethal dose range for carfentanil in humans is unknown. However, the DEA believes that the presence of carfentanil in illicit U.S. drug markets is cause for concern, as the relative strength of this drug could lead to an increase in overdoses and overdose-related deaths, even among opioid-tolerant users.
It has recently been reported in an alarming number of deaths in some states. Ohio reported nearly 400 carfentanil-involved deaths during July–December 2016, and Florida reported >500 such deaths for all of 2016, according to the CDC. During July 2016–June 2017, among 11,045 opioid overdose deaths, 2,275 (20.6%) decedents tested positive for any fentanyl analog, and 1,236 (11.2%) tested positive for carfentanil.
According to Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD, of MedicineNet, people refer to this group of drugs as opiates or opioids and it includes drugs like heroin, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, and Percodan. This group of substances sharply decrease the functioning of the nervous system. The lethality of opioids is often the result of the abuser having to use increasingly higher amounts to achieve the same level of intoxication, ultimately to the point that the dose needed to get high is the same as the dose that is lethal by overdose for that individual by halting the person's breathing (respiratory arrest).