BALTIMORE - Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and state officials are warning residents about the dangers and risks of carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that is used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other large mammals. The potent drug was found in the autopsy of three people who recently died from apparent overdoses.
Health officials say one of the overdoses happened in Frederick County while the other two took place in Anne Arundel County.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), carfentanil is 50 times deadlier than heroin, 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. The DEA issued a public warning nationwide last year of an increased use of the opioid.
"Carfentanil is the latest in a string of deadly drugs that have exacted a horrible toll on residents in Maryland and across the country," said Maryland Department of Health and Mental Secretary Dennis R. Schrader in a news release..
The three recent overdose deaths come after Gov. Hogan declared a state of emergency in March to help battle the ongoing heroin and opioid crisis in Maryland. He announced $50 million in new funding over a five-year period for the state's efforts to combat the problem.
The drug epidemic has affected the governor personally as Hogan has publicly said that he lost a cousin to heroin addiction. In a Facebook post on Monday, Hogan wrote:
"Just two months ago, I declared a State of Emergency in response to the rapid escalation of the heroin and opioid crisis in our state. I spoke about the prevalence of fentanyl, which is 50 times more dangerous and far more deadly than heroin, causing the epidemic to spread even faster across Maryland and the entire country.
Now, we are facing a new fight against carfentanil, which is 100 times more deadly than fentanyl. In just the past 24 hours, three Marylanders have died after overdosing on this incredibly dangerous substance.
It is imperative that we raise awareness of just how deadly these drugs are. Our Opioid Operational Command Center, which I announced in tandem with the State of Emergency, will continue to work with county and local offices, but we need your help to spread the word.
I am calling on all Marylanders to share the following information:
Marylanders who are struggling with substance use disorders can find location-based treatment resources at MdDestinationRecovery.org or via the 24/7 Maryland Crisis Hotline at 1-800-422-0009.
If you know of someone in need of treatment for a substance use disorder, treatment facilities can be found at http://goo.gl/rbGF6S.
For information on many of the policies currently implemented to fight substance use disorder and overdose in Maryland, visit http://goo.gl/KvEzQw.
With an all-hands-on-deck approach, together, we can save the lives of thousands of Marylanders.