Heroin laced with elephant sedative found in Hamilton County

"Enough is enough": Health officials comment on deadly heroin mixture

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Hamilton County health officials are issuing an urgent warning about a drug combination that is 10,000 times more potent than pure heroin.

Carfentanil, a powerful opioid intended for sedating large animals, has been discovered in local supplies of heroin, the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition announced Friday.

"This would be a great time to get clean and stay clean because we are really afraid of what we're coming up on," said Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco. The coalition wants anyone who knows a heroin user to be aware of the deadly combination.

In the past week, Carfentanil is to blame for several overdoses in Cincinnati, the coalition said. In other areas of Ohio, the drug has had devastating effects in a short time period.

Akron officials reported 25 overdoses, four of which were fatal in a recent three-day period, while Columbus reported 10 overdoses in a nine-hour window, two of which were fatal.

Because of the drug's potency, the task force is recommending all law enforcement officers and first responders stop field-testing heroin and instead send it to a lab. The drug could be absorbed through even a small cut or wound on the skin, according to Dr. Sammarco.

Officials have no idea how users are getting their hands on the drug. They're looking into whether it is being imported or manufactured within the state.

Medical experts believe Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than Fentanyl. It is often used to sedate zoo elephants and very large animals and is not approved for human use.

"Take this as a dire warning to all if you choose to purchase and use any forms of heroin," said Sammarco. "No one knows what other drugs may be mixed in or substituted and you may be literally gambling with your life."

There are treatment options and support for those struggling with heroin addiction. Click here to access local resources.

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