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At least eight deaths have been linked to carfentanil in Ohio

Just 2 milligrams of carfentanil can sedate an elephant

CNN  — 

Carfentanil, a sedative for large animals, was the cause of at least eight overdose deaths in the Cincinnati area, said Hamilton County coroner Dr. Lakshmi Kode Sammarco on Tuesday.

Sammarco added that they are waiting on blood and urine tests from five more overdose deaths which she is confident “will also be due to carfentanil.”

The most potent opioid commercially available

Carfentanil is the most potent opioid used commercially, 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It is a version or analogue of fentanyl, the painkiller that most recently made headlines as the cause of the the accidental overdose death of pop star Prince.

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid and can slow breathing significantly. It’s not approved for human use, but is used commercially to sedate large animals, such as elephants. As little as 2 milligrams can knock out an African elephant weighing nearly 2,000-pounds.