Georgia authorities have confirmed two new strains of fentanyl so potent that they may be resistant to the lifesaving antidote naloxone, also known as Narcan. Georgia Bureau of Investigators (GBI) warned on Tuesday of acrylfentanyl, which has been linked to at least 44 overdose deaths in Cook County, Illinois, this year, and tetrahydrofureon, which is so new that it’s not on Georgia’s banned synthetic designer drugs list.
According to GBI, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office submitted forensic drug evidence containing the two new drugs in March. The state officially outlawed acrylfentanyl in April, with officials warning that it’s not clear how the body will respond to either drug.
“There are multiple reports showing that this drug is resistant to naloxone,” Nelly Miles, of the GBI, told Channel 2 Action News of acrylfentanyl.
Police are also warning that simply touching any form of fentanyl or fentanyl residue could result in a life-threatening overdose.
“We’re talking about such trace amounts that literally the size of one grain of salt can kill,” Marietta Police Office Chuck McPhilamy told First Coast News.
Georgia was hit with a rash of overdoses in June, which was believed to be linked to a street version of Percocet and resulted in four fatalities and more than a dozen hospitalizations. At the time, the overdose clusters were concentrated in southern and central areas of the state. It is not clear if the two new strains have appeared outside of Forsyth county.
Opioid overdoses, including prescription drugs and heroin, killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than half of the fatalities involved a prescription opioid.