At least four people are dead and dozens more have been hospitalized after overdosing on what authorities in Georgia believe to be Percocet.
The victims reportedly ingested a “yellow pill,” which authorities have not yet definitely identified. The Georgia Department of Public Health called the pills “extremely potent” and warned that while the overdoses are concentrated in the middle and southern areas of the state, the drugs may be sold elsewhere, AJC.com reported.
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.
Georgia Poison Center is currently working with the hospitals and gathering more information to determine whether these additional cases are connected to the cluster of overdoses reported in the past three days.
Emergency workers responded in the last 48 hours to reports of overdoses in Centerville, Perry and Warner Robins, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. However, the drugs might also have been sold on the street in other areas of the state.
Doctor are eagerly awaiting toxicology tests to find out what is in these pills that triggered this mass overdose. They worry about the possibility of more cases if this drug is still on the streets. “Difficulty breathing, slurred speech, most are coming through the ambulance,” Dr. Chris Hendry said.
The chief medical officer describes the symptoms of the rash of overdose patients that have arrived at a Macon hospital in the last 48 hours. They all had one thing in common, they took pills that they thought were pharmaceutical quality pain meds. They were wrong.
“It’s being sold on the street as Percocet, however, when it’s taken, the patients are experiencing significant and severely decreased levels of consciousness, and respiratory failure,” Hendry said. “There have been four deaths associated with this opioid overdose.”
It’s not yet known what the pills contain.
In a recent trend, drug dealers are creating counterfeit pain pills that contain the powerful synthetic drug fentanyl but look like legitimate pain pills. Users have no idea of what they’re taking. “Someone has developed this particular pill, this substance and passing it off as a prescription medicine. It’s not,” Sheriff Dave Davis said. Davis said he’s working with state and federal law enforcement to catch those selling the drug, before there are more overdoses and overdose deaths.
“Somebody knows something about the person passing out this poison in our community and someone should make the call,” Davis said.
Doctors have issued an alert warning people not buy pain medications from someone on the street. They could produce deadly results.
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NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis