3 North Carolina deaths tied to synthetic drug 'China White'

February 19, 2014 8:36:14 AM PST
North Carolina health officials said Wednesday that three deaths have been linked to the synthetic drug acetyl fentanyl, and they've issued a health advisory.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said acetyl fentanyl is an opioid analgesic drug that is up to five times more potent than heroin.  It is an analog of fentanyl - a powerful narcotic analgesic - and is not available as a prescription drug in the United States. It often goes by the street name "China White."

Toxicologists at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner detected acetyl fentanyl in specimens associated with deaths that occurred in January in Sampson, Person and Transylvania counties.

"It is important for law enforcement, medical professionals and our citizens to be aware that this dangerous drug  is in North Carolina," said Acting State Health Director Robin Gary Cummings.  "Acetyl fentanyl is another addition to a growing list of synthetic drugs and represents a serious threat to public health."

Last June, the CDC issued an alert to public health agencies, state laboratories, medical examiners, coroners, and emergency departments to be on the lookout for acetyl fentanyl.  The CDC also advised emergency departments and emergency medical services to ensure that they have adequate supply of naloxone, an emergency antidote to opioid overdose.

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