Doctor: 'Elephant Heroin' hits central Ky., 10,000 times stronger than morphine

Published: Sep. 1, 2016 at 4:44 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

It's hard to hit a moving target. Last year, arguably the most dangerous drug on the street was fentanyl. But now, carfentanil has surfaced, which is said to be 100 to 1,000 times stronger than fentanyl. You may recall, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

"It would be very unusual to have a day where we didn't see any (drug overdoses). We've had as many as five or six in a two or three hour period of time," explained UK Emergency Department Vice Chairman Doctor Charles Eckerline Jr. Mixed in those overdoses, he's seeing carfentanil, known on the street as 'Elephant Heroin.'

"I can safely say that carfentanil is here?" asked WKYT's Miranda Combs. "It's certainly our assumption, yes," Eckerline confirmed.

The antidote for opioid overdoses is naloxone, also known as Narcan. Eckerline said Narcan can work on carfentanil, but it's harder and takes more doses. And many times, it's too late. "It will work but it sometimes requires more. And again, Narcan isn't perfect. Sometimes the patient still requires intubation and ventilation support," he said.

This problem of heroin cocktail overdoses has forced police to go to lengths we've never seen before. Police departments flooding social media with Facebook posts warning the people they are usually trying to bust to beware of the dangerous drug mixtures.

"People need to know this is pure poison," US Attorney Kerry Harvey warned in December. Harvey was the first to tell us about fentanyl last year. But the drug game is constantly changing, and the results are getting worse. "People are dying in our communities in record numbers," he said.

"There's no quality control among drug dealers," Eckerline stated. "People cut drugs with a lot of different things. You never know what you're getting. You never know the concentration, the potency, the combination."

Carfentanil is the scariest drug yet. But that was said last year with fentanyl. That makes officials wonder, what's next.