The drug Carfentanil is for elephants not humans

A highly potent opioid found in a recent drug seizure in the ACT is designed for sedating large animals such as elephants and rhinos, not for use by humans, Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Kelly, said today.

The ACT Government’s Analytical Laboratory has discovered the potentially deadly drug Carfentanil the region for the first time, raising a red flag for medical and law enforcement personnel.

"Fentanyl and its various analogues (including Carfentanil) are highly potent synthetic opioids which, similar to morphine and heroin, have abuse potential,” Dr Kelly said.

"Carfentanil is one of the most potent Fentanyl analogues with a potency estimated to be 10,000 times that of morphine.

The only known legitimate use for Carfentanil is the sedation of a large animal such as a rhinoceros or an elephant.

The drug is so potent that a safe dose is so small it cannot be measured outside a scientific laboratory as domestic scales do not provide sufficient accuracy.

A fatal overdose can be caused by accidental skin contact with a powder containing Carfentanil. A deliberate dose of less than a grain of salt could also kill.

To date there are no detections in the ACT where fentanyl or its analogues have been detected mixed with other drugs such as heroin, however drug users are advised to exercise extreme caution if they are not certain of the content of a substance.

We are warning users that there is an elevated risk of overdose and they should not consume any product they suspect may contain fentanyl or its analogues.

In the United States, Canada and Europe, the increased use of these drugs has been linked to highly significant increases in the number of fatal opioid overdoses. Reports indicate that these have predominantly been the result of using unknown or deliberate mixtures of heroin/oxycodone and fentanyl or one of its analogues.

In Cincinnati in the United States in August 2016, there were 174 overdoses linked to fentanyl in Cincinnati in the space of just six days.

The message is clear – this drug should be left to the animals,” Dr Kelly said.

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