10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, carfentanil, a synthetic opioid, is a white powdery substance that looks like it could be heroine or cocaine. Drug dealers mix it with heroine so as to make the heroine stronger.
What is carfentanil?
Carfentanil (4-carbomethoxyfentanyl) is an analogue of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The drug was first synthesized in 1974, by Janssen Pharmaceutical, and was commercialized under the trade name Wildnil®. Carfentanil has no distinguishing odor and comes in many forms among which we have powder, patches, tablets, liquid, blotted paper, and sprays. Although known to resemble powdered cocaine or heroine, carfentanil has been seized as a pale, yellow, pink, or brown powder.
Uses of carfentanil powder
Traditionally, carfentanil powder is used by veterinarians to tranquilize and sedate farm animals, or large wild animals in need of care (as examples we have moose, deer, and elephants). The drug is such that it can easily tranquillize elephants and other wild animals. Wildlife rangers also make use of the combination of drugs (including carfentanil) for sedating wild bison. Due to its high potent nature, veterinarians who use it often wear protective gear, such as gloves and face shields, when administering the drug. In the U.S., veterinarians must have a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number, and must figure within the approved user’s list.
What you should know about the effects of carfentanil powder
Carfentanil powder is one of the most dangerous opioids that is currently known. Studies reveal that it is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, 4,000 times more potent than heroine, and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. In humans, a dose as small as 1micrigram is sufficient to elicit a body response to the drug, and about 20 micrograms, which is less than a grain of salt, is enough to be fatal. Like fentanyl, carfentanil powder can be absorbed accidentally, which makes its exposure and handling very dangerous.
There are reports of drug dealers adding carfentanil to traditional drugs due to its affordability. Note that it is more potent and easier to obtain than heroine and cocaine. It is unlikely that drug consumers are aware that they are receiving drugs laced with carfentanil, and are exposed to over dosage when taking their normal dose. In 2017, it was noticed that between January and November the number of accidental drug poisoning deaths related to carfentanil in Alberta had risen to 330% (29 in 2016 to 125 in 2017).
Naloxone has been proven effective in reversing carfentanil overdoses. However, slightly greater than normal doses are required to revive those who have overdosed.
Signs of carfentanil exposure
Carfentanil is a drug that works quickly. If a loved one has been exposed, the following signs of exposure will become evident within a few minutes:
- Clammy skin
- Pinpoint pupils
- Respiratory depression
Immediately call the attention of the emergency unit upon observing any of the exposure signs.