Officials warn of new drug 100 times more potent than fentanyl

Photo: USCBP

(CBS)- Officials in San Diego County have issued an alert after three people have suffered documented fatal overdosed from a new form of the drug fentanyl know as carfentanil. It would only take 2 mg of the drug to cause a deadly overdose meanwhile it would only take .02 mg of carfentanil to have the same fatal results.

Langdon Fielding is an emergency veterinarian at Loomis Basin Equine. He said he uses fentanyl on horses for pain relief.

"Basically it's super strong morphine-like a really strong drug to control pain," said Fielding.

Carfentanil is similar to fentanyl but twice as strong and used in large animals like horses and elephants widely in zoos.

According to the DEA in San Diego County, it is sold in the illegal drug trade and often mixed into a pill to look like Oxycontin or Xanax. Users don't often know what they're taking or where it's coming from. Veterinarians like Fielding aren't surprised it's linked to criminal activity.

"It's even stronger than Fentanyl, so like if you had a motivation to steal either morphine or fentanyl, carfentanil would be that much stronger," said Langdon. "It's like a really concentrated dose of a similar type of drug so I would think the potential to want to steal it would be even higher."

The DEA has quick facts about carfentanil, stressing that it's a synthetic opioid, white, powdery and looks like cocaine or heroin. It's 100 times more potent than fentanyl and trace amounts can kill you.

Carfentanil also poses a risk to first responders and law enforcement personnel who touch it accidentally.

Both the Sacramento Police department and the Sacramento Sheriff's office said the synthetic has not hit the streets there yet, but they're always on the lookout for new forms of any drugs that can have deadly consequences for users in the region.