Is Carfentanil to Blame for Record High Heroin Overdoses?
In Cincinnati, a terrifying heroin overdose crisis is underway. In a city where 4 overdoses a day are typical, last Tuesday and Wednesday saw 78 overdoses and there were an estimated 174 overdose cases in local emergency rooms in less than 1 week.
Close by, New Jersey saw 29 heroin overdoses between Tuesday and Thursday in Camden on free samples of heroin marketed with a Batman stamp, in Indiana, 13 people overdosed Tuesday in Jennings County, about 60 miles north of Louisville and in Kentucky, 12 people overdosed on heroin Wednesday in Montgomery County, about 100 miles east of Louisville.
Law enforcement and medical personnel believe that the potent heroin is from the same source and they are working overtime to find the dealer. Although there is speculation that fentanyl has been mixed with the heroin, some are beginning to think the mega-potent, animal opioid, carfentanil is to blame.
Carfentanil, an analgesic for large animals including elephants, was discovered in July in the region’s heroin stream in Akron and Columbus. Unfortunately, hospitals in the region are not equipped to test blood for the animal opioid, which is rare and only in July surfaced in greater Cincinnati’s street heroin.
“The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has been on alert for carfentanil since its appearance in U.S. and at the Canadian border, said Melvin Patterson, a DEA spokesman in Washington. “Officials have little doubt that the carfentanil that’s showing up in street drugs is from overseas, just as fentanyl is manufactured and brought across the U.S. borders. It’s such a restricted drug there’s only a handful of places in the United States that can have it,” he said.
The DEA is currently working with Chinese counterparts who want to stop the illegal shipments. Patterson indicated that carfentanil has been manufactured in China, delivered to Mexico, shipped to Canada and then to Ohio. Further, there also have been reports of carfentanil shipping directly to Canada, and being intercepted by Mexican drug organizations. No matter how carfentanil is coming into the U.S., preventative measures to stop its import all together are crucial.