(CNN) — In the midst of an opioid crisis, another illicit drug has hit the streets of Seattle.
Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times stronger than fentanyl; it’s sold as a white powder substance or in pill form.
Caleb Banta-Green is a researcher and scientist at UW’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. It’s even that much more strong than fentanyl, you need even less of it to get people high or kill people on it,” said Banta – Green.
The Washington State crime lab discovered traces of carfentanil in a syringe mixed with other drugs right here at this unauthorized homeless camp near the Fremont troll. It’s where five people overdosed on the same day in January.
It’s still uncertain if carfentanil is connected to the five overdoses, but the health department raised the red flag about it in a blog post, calling it deadly, but rare in Washington. Banta- Green says, “with these new synthetic opioids which we think are coming in from china they’re so potent you only have to ship a little bit.”
The Drug Enforcement Agency calls it a ‘significant threat’ to first responders who touch it by accident and urged the use of personal protection equipment.
“Carfentanil is used for large animals, not for human beings not safe to dose.” Banta-Green says users don’t know what they’re getting.
“We’ve been hearing about big increase in fen and other fen related drugs in the east coast and Midwest for several years,” says Banta-Green.
Six overdose deaths in Maryland were linked to carfentanil in 2017.