Three NC deaths linked to synthetic drug ‘China White’

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina health officials said Wednesday three deaths have been linked to the synthetic drug acetyl fentanyl, prompting a health advisory from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The DHHS said acetyl fentanyl is an opioid analgesic drug that is “up to five times more potent than heroin.”  It is an analog of fentanyl – a powerful narcotic analgesic – and is not available as a prescription drug in the United States.

The drug is also known on the black market as “China White” and is often peddled as heroin.

“It is important for law enforcement, medical professionals and our citizens to be aware that this dangerous drug  is in North Carolina,” said Acting State Health Director Robin Gary Cummings.  “Acetyl fentanyl is another addition to a growing list of synthetic drugs and represents a serious threat to public health.”

Toxicologists at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner detected acetyl fentanyl in specimens associated with deaths that occurred in January in Sampson, Person and Transylvania counties, according to WTVD.

“It is important for law enforcement, medical professionals and our citizens to be aware that this dangerous drug  is in North Carolina,” said Acting State Health Director Robin Gary Cummings.  “Acetyl fentanyl is another addition to a growing list of synthetic drugs and represents a serious threat to public health.”

Last June, the CDC issued an alert to public health agencies, state laboratories, medical examiners, coroners, and emergency departments to be on the lookout for acetyl fentanyl.  The CDC also advised emergency departments and emergency medical services to ensure that they have adequate supply of naloxone, an emergency antidote to opioid overdose.