Yet another deadly overdose was reported in Middle Georgia on Sunday, June 11, which officials believe could be liked to a batch of fake Percocet pills that have left more five people dead and sent dozens more to the hospital.
“The poison center received a report this morning about an overdose possibly related to the cluster we have seen over the past week,” the Georgia Department of Public Health said in a statement. “[The] Georgia Poison Center is currently working with the local hospitals and gathering information to determine if these additional cases are connected to the cluster of overdoses reported in the past three days.”
Sunday’s overdose was the fifth fatality in the past week possibly related to the fake yellow pills, local station 11 Alive reported. On Tuesday, June 6, emergency workers responded to multiple reports of overdoses across Albany, Centerville, Perry and Warner Robins, Ga., in a matter of hours, authorities said.
Georgia Poison Center director Dr. Gaylord Lopez told the Associated Press that several patients arrived at hospitals unconscious after swallowing the pills and needed medical equipment to breathe, along with “aggressive” doses of overdose-reversing medication.
The actual substance causing the deadly overdoses remained a mystery until last week when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab tested the pills and found that they contained a mixture of two synthetic opioids, according to 11 Alive. One of the drugs was consistent with a fentanyl analogue that researchers have never seen before. The GBI is still working to identify the other substance.
The poisonous pills are still circulating the streets and officials are unsure exactly how much of the drug is out there and exactly where it’s coming from. Those who became ill after taking the pills said they purchased the drugs thinking it was Percocet.
“Mexican drug cartels are manufacturing fentanyl into Percocet pills and oxycodone and other type pills as well, but it’s a way for these bad people to make a very good living on the backs of addiction and that’s what they are targeting,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Dan Salter said.
Officials say police are working around the clock to track down the drugs and get them off the streets.