Jun 28, 2017 | Updated: 09:10 PM EDT

Fentanyl: Deadlier Than Heroin

Jun 12, 2017 06:46 PM EDT

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman Announces Large Heroin Bust
(Photo : Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the synthetic opioid fentanyl is so powerful it could even cause an accidental overdose in the first responders who are trying to save victims' lives.

"Fentanyl is deadly," said acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg in a video to American law enforcement officers. "Exposure to an amount equivalent to a few grains of sand can kill you. You can be in grave danger even if you unintentionally come into contact with fentanyl."

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Fentanyl's potency sets it apart from other opioids such as OxyContin. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) more than 33,000 American deaths involved opioids in 2015.

"The opioid epidemic nationwide has caused havoc and heartbreak for our children, friends and neighbors," said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. "Any fentanyl exposure can kill innocent law enforcement, first responders and the public. As we continue to fight this epidemic, it is critical that we provide every tool necessary to educate the public and law enforcement about the dangers of fentanyl and its deadly consequences."

The New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory released a photo last year depicting just how potent fentanyl can be. The photo shows two bottles, both containing a lethal dose. One holds 30 milligrams of heroin while the other holds just 3 milligrams of fentanyl - that's enough to kill an average-sized adult male.

Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and several times that of heroin, reports the CDC.


(Photo : Centers for Disease Control )

Because fentanyl and heroin look identical, drug users could potentially be injecting themselves with the wrong substance.

"You don't know what you're taking," Tim Pifer, the director of the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory, told STAT in an interview. "You're injecting yourself with a loaded gun."


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