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Cuyahoga Co. medical examiner warns of fake OxyContin pills containing potent animal sedative

By COURTNEY ASTOLFI • Jul 26, 2017 at 9:00 PM

CLEVELAND (TNS) — The Cuyahoga County medical examiner issued a public health warning today after discovering carfentanil in pills form that are disguised to look like OxyContin.

Dr. Thomas Gilson said the findings should be considered a very serious issue that carries the possibility of causing even more overdose deaths in the midst of the opioid epidemic.

People who purchase OxyContin on the street — as opposed to obtaining it through a prescription — should be wary of the danger that this discovery poses, Gilson said today in a news release.

Carfentanil is 5,000 times more potent than the oxycodone found in genuine OxyContin pills. It's a sedative generally used on large animals. Carfentanil played a part in 58 fatal overdose cases in Cuyahoga County in 2016, the news release says.

The Cleveland Police Department found the fake pills and submitted them to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office for analysis.

"This situation is alarming, as the potency of carfentail is substantially greater than the oxycodone found in OxyContin, and there is a serious risk of unintentional overdose in their use," Gilson said in the release.

Anyone seeking information on opioid addiction should contact Project DAWN at 216-778-5677.

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