Maryland Issues Warning About Carfentanil After Three Deaths in Anne Arundel and Frederick Counties

The Opioid Operational Command Center is raising awareness of a carfentanil threat to Maryland communities after three residents in Anne Arundel and Frederick counties died in apparent overdoses from the synthetic opioid.

“Carfentanil is the latest in a string of deadly drugs that have exacted a horrible toll on residents in Maryland and across the country,” said Dennis Schrader, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in a news release.

Just last September, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued a warning to law enforcement and the public about carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that is 10,000 times deadlier than morphine and 100 times deadlier than fentanyl.  Carfentanil is used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other large mammals, according to the DEA.

“The risk in using these drugs cannot be overstated,” said Howard Haft, public health services deputy secretary. “We want Marylanders who struggle with substance use disorders to know they can find location-based treatment resources at MdDestinationRecovery.org or via the 24/7 Maryland Crisis Hotline, 1.800.422.0009, before it’s too late.”

The effort to raise awareness and to lend all appropriate support to local government agencies is central to the work of the Opioid Operational Command Center, formed earlier this year when Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency to combat the opioid epidemic.

“The Command Center will continue to work with our counties’ health departments and emergency management offices to help make responses and supports more efficient,” said Clay Stamp, the center’s executive director. “At the outset, that means spreading the word to people who might not be aware just how deadly these drugs are.”

According to a DHMH news release, synthetic opioid carfentanil was detected by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in the performance of autopsies using an assay, a tool that confirms the presence of a substance in a body.

“As this crisis has evolved, so have our policies and divisions,” said Schrader.

For more information about overdose prevention in Maryland, see the state’s website here.

Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at sburke@mymcmedia.org or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.

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