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Health warning released after a significant increase in seized carfentanil in Cuyahoga County



CLEVELAND – Cuyahoga County Medical Exam's Office has released a public health warning of a significant increase in seized carfentanil.

According to the medical examination, the Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory experienced an increase in seized carfentanil powder and tablets tested over the past month.

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid and a large animal degrading agent.

Blue tablets labeled with "A 215", allegedly oxycodone, but containing carfentanil (2018).
Rights: Cuyahoga County Medical Exam's Office

It is almost impossible to detect by sight because carfentanil is often mixed with other drugs or disguised as prescription tablets.

Officials say toxicological screen tests revealed that last month was one of the deadly months of drug overdose in Cuyahoga County. With pending test results, it is reportedly too early to determine how many of these carfentanil-related deaths were.

"Again, the appearance of carfentanil in the local illicit drug supply is alarming. This is a very lethal drug and anyone using illegal or derived drugs must be aware of the possibility of being exposed to it," said Thomas Gilson of Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner in a press release. "Having another person nearby to call 911 and / or administer naloxone can be life-saving."

Cuyahoga County suffered 24 carfentanil-related deaths in 2018, according to the medical examiner's provisional 2018 Drug Overdose Statistics report. This is a significant decrease from the 191 carfentanil-related deaths in 2017.

Left: Carfentanil and Heroin Mixture (2017). Between: Carfentanil and Cocaine blend (2018). Right: Carfentanil (2017).
Rights: Cuyahoga County Medical Exam's Office

More about carfentanil, here.

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