Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner warns of carfentanil disguised as OxyContin

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(Photo courtesy: Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office)

CLEVELAND– Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson issued a warning on Wednesday about a disturbing new drug trend.

The Cleveland Division of Police submitted pills to the county drug lab for testing that were disguised to look like OxyContin. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said it detected carfentanil in the pills, which could lead to more overdose deaths.

“This situation is alarming, as the potency of carfentail is substantially greater than the oxycodone found in OxyContin, and there is a serious risk of unintentional overdose in their use,” Gilson said in a news release on Wednesday.

OxyContin is a powerful opioid painkiller that’s available with a prescription, while carfentanil is a large animal sedative. It is 5,000 times more potent than Oxycodone and is unsafe for humane use.

According to the medical examiner’s office, there were 58 fatal overdoses involving carfentanil in Cuyahoga County last year.

“People who recreationally use OxyContin purchased from street sources should be aware of this very dangerous development that may result in rapid death. These fake tablets are illegally manufactured to resemble OxyContin. The supply of tablets dispensed legally from a pharmacy will not be affected by this.”

If you or anyone that you know is actively using or recovering from opioid addiction, contact Project DAWN for information at 216-778-5677. Eligible participants are given free kits of the opioid antidote Naloxone.

The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County provides a 24-hour crisis hotline at 216-623-6888.

For more information on how to help those batting opioid or heroin addition, click here

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