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posted by martyb on Saturday September 03 2016, @09:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the good-samaritans-beware dept.

When customers want a longer-lasting high, heroin dealers respond by augmenting their products with drugs like carfentanil:

A powerful drug that's normally used to tranquilize elephants is being blamed for a record spike in drug overdoses in the Midwest. Officials in Ohio have declared a public health emergency, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says communities everywhere should be on alert for carfentanil. The synthetic opioid is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, the prescription painkiller that led to the death earlier this year of the pop star Prince. Fentanyl itself can be up to 50 times more deadly than heroin.

In the past few years, traffickers in illegal drugs increasingly have substituted fentanyl for heroin and other opioids. Now carfentanil [alt link] is being sold on American streets, either mixed with heroin or pressed into pills that look like prescription drugs. Many users don't realize that they're buying carfentanil. And that has deadly consequences.

"Instead of having four or five overdoses in a day, you're having these 20, 30, 40, maybe even 50 overdoses in a day," says Tom Synan, who directs the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force in Southwest Ohio. He's also the police chief in Newtown, Ohio. Synan says carfentanil turned up in Cincinnati in July. At times, the number of overdoses has overwhelmed first responders. "Their efforts are truly heroic, to be going from call to call to call," he says. "One district alone had seen 14 in one shift, so they were nonstop."

First responders and emergency room workers are being told to wear protective gloves and masks. That's because carfentanil is so potent, it can be dangerous to someone who simply touches or inhales it. This was devastatingly clear back in 2002, after a hostage rescue operation in Moscow that went wrong. To overpower Chechen terrorists who'd seized control of a theater, Russian Special Forces sprayed a chemical aerosol into the building. More than 100 hostages were overcome and died. Laboratory tests by British investigators later revealed [open, DOI: 10.1093/jat/bks078] [DX] that the aerosol included carfentanil.

In the article about the DEA adding kratom to Schedule I, I mentioned an "unprecedented" amount of "heroin" overdoses in Cincinnati. The carfentanil-cut heroin boosted the overdose tally to 174 in 6 days (225 in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and New Jersey):

Deaths have not spiked along with the overdose reports because police officers or emergency medical technicians are immediately administering naloxone, sometimes in more than one dose, to bring heroin users back to consciousness and start them breathing.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Snotnose on Sunday September 04 2016, @12:50AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Sunday September 04 2016, @12:50AM (#397191)

    Take the profit motive away from the drug lords, let the addicts quit committing crimes to support their over-priced habits, let the addicts know what they're taking and calibrate themselves accordingly.

    Oh wait. That means the DEA takes a huge money and power hit. Never mind, never happen.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 04 2016, @01:50AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 04 2016, @01:50AM (#397205)

    Alternatively, how about some education for the drug dealers?

    It's a really bad idea to kill your customers (accidentally, or on purpose). Particularly bad for repeat business...and every savvy business-person knows that your current customers are usually your best customers. Also, repeat customers require the minimum of advertizing/marketing effort.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 04 2016, @09:15AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 04 2016, @09:15AM (#397328)

      Dealers don't care because there are always more customers. Dealers aren't business savvy, those are the wholesales.

      Dead or dying "customers" won't hurt a dealer's business or reputation because if the possibility of dying was a deterrent to using drugs like heroin ...

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday September 04 2016, @06:20AM

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday September 04 2016, @06:20AM (#397304) Journal

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov//petition/please-do-not-make-kratom-schedule-i-substance [whitehouse.gov]

    53,950 / 100,000

    Good for a laugh (they have to submit a written answer to successful petitions) even if nothing changes.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 04 2016, @05:06PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 04 2016, @05:06PM (#397439)

      Those are 53,950 people that can expect a friendly knock on the door^W^W^W^W^W SWAT Team storming into their house in a couple of days...