Public Warning: Carfentanil, Elephant Tranquilizer Drug Found In Michigan
A few weeks ago, I penned an article about the rise of the drug carfentanil in Ohio, which was responsible for a rash of overdoses. The drug is 10,000 time more powerful than morphine, and is only indicated for use in large animal sedation (tranquilizer.)
I am sad to say that it appears to have made its way to my home state of Michigan.
Most often, those who obtain the drug don’t know exactly what they’re getting – it’s often laced into heroin, or sold in pill form as something more benign in comparison.
It is so dangerous that animal handlers must cover their hands and face to avoid accidental contact, which can be fatal. The anti-overdose drug naloxone is kept on hand for emergencies.
Yesterday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Michigan State Police (MSP), and other law enforcement and health agencies put forth a warning about the drug circulating. Currently, a case is being investigated in Kent County.
The Michigan State Police Grand Rapids Forensic Science Laboratory recently tested an unknown powder found during an investigation, and it was determined to likely contain carfentanil.
Dr. Ede Wells, chief medical executive of the MDHHS:
“Opioid and heroin use have deadly effects and the introduction of carfentanil into the drug supply makes the potential for fatality due to overdose even greater. Michigan residents need to know that carfentanil is a real danger to our communities, and its consequences are fatal.”
An opioid overdose is characterized by life-threatening central nervous system depression. Within minutes, a user may experience disorientation, extreme sedation, and respiratory distress, followed by cardiac arrest, coma, and death.
Indeed, even the normally effective antidote naloxone may not be enough to save someone. Those who have been exposed to carfentanil may need to be administered multiple doses in order to survive.
Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP:
“The Michigan State Police is closely monitoring the potential presence of carfentanil in Michigan. We continue to work with our public safety partners to thoroughly investigate possible cases involving carfentanil to keep this dangerous drug out of our communities.”
The MDHHS has issued a Health Alert Network notification to inform hospitals, health departments, and first responders to approach unknown chemicals with extreme caution.