Animal tranquilizer found in overdose deaths

Update: 10:00 pm, 4/20/17, Thursday 

SANGAMON COUNTY -- Two people are dead after overdosing on a drug used to immobilize large animals. Now the coroner is saying it's something the public needs to be aware of.

It's a drug not approved for human use in the United States. Doctors say if it is used, there's probably no coming back. 

Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards says, "It's a sedating drug used for large animals, like zoo animals, for elephants, so you can imagine the effect it has on humans."

The effect on two people was deadly.  Carfentanil was found in their toxicology reports. 

"Opioids are very very addictive and, not only mentally, but physically addictive. If you quit them, you go through withdrawals. You have to have them, so, it's a beast to beat," says Edwards.  

Edwards knew the drug was in the U.S. and had hoped it wouldn't become a problem locally. Now, she believes the public should be on alert. 

"I don't know if the amount of it is going to uptick or not, but I think it certainly needs public awareness."

She says, just about any level of Carfentanil is lethal to people. It's 10,000 times more potent than morphine. One veterinarian says it should only be used by medical professionals.

"So, in the hands of a lay person, yes it is can be very dangerous. But doctors using it judiciously, it's a safe drug for us in the medical field to alleviate pain," says Kandice Norrell, Good Friends veterinarian and owner. 

But for those medical professionals on the scene of an overdose, Edwards says, it's even dangerous for them to be around.  

"Even first responders who are handling it, if someone handles their drugs there. They should probably not even touch it with bare hands of course," says Edwards.  

The Champaign County Coroner says he's seen overdose deaths with heroin and cocaine, but there's been nothing with Carfentanil so far. 

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Original: 12:30 pm, 4/20/17, Thursday

SANGAMON COUNTY -- Authorities say a drug used to immobilize large animals has been found in the toxicology results of two overdose deaths.

The coroner's office says Carfentanil is not approved for human use and is about 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

Last year, the drug was found mixed with other substances, like heroin, in the illegal drug market. Officials say, even Narcan will likely be ineffective if a person overdosing on an opiate has Carfentanil in his or her system.

So far this year, the Sangamon County Coroner's Office reports about 18-deaths this year from opiate overdoses.


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