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Drug Arriving in Nashville is 10,000 Times More Powerful than Morphine

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Director of Emergency Services for Metro Nashville is concerned a synthetic opioid emerging in Middle Tennessee could cause an increase in deadly overdoses.

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid created for use in large animals like elephants. In humans, the drug is so powerful it can cause a deadly overdose within seconds.

“One of the key problems of carfentanil is how potent it is,” Dr. Corey Slovis said. “We really worry we won’t get to the patient in time.”

Metro police along with U.S. Postal inspectors intercepted a package of carfentanil mailed from Florida to Nashville on April 19. The package had 140 milligrams of the drug, enough to kill thousands of people.

The synthetic opioid is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine and is commonly used as an additive to heroin.

Naloxone is an antidote emergency responders can use to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. But with carfentanil, the drug can take effect so fast and is so powerful that Naloxone can be ineffective.

“It is designed to reverse drugs like morphine, and it can reverse heroin,” Dr. Slovis explained. “But the problem with carfentanil is it may require a huge amount of Naloxone.”

He continued, “It may require more than the patient might have or what the EMS staff may have with them.”

The carfentanil found last Wednesday is the first seized by police.

The drug is linked to several overdoses in the Midwest. In fact, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin’s medical examiner warned the public there that two overdoses are connected to the drug and more are expected.

In Maryland, emergency responders are attributing a spike in deadly overdoses to carfentanil including three this month.

Anyone with information about the shipment of carfentanil to Nashville should contact Metro police at 615-862-8600.

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