Kilo of Elephant-Sedative Carfentanil Seized at Canadian Border Ignites Overdose Worries

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Kilo of Elephant-Sedative Carfentanil Seized at Canadian Border Ignites Overdose Worries

By Seth Ferranti 08/15/16

According to Canadian police, the kilo of carfentanil, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, could have produced more than 50 million doses.

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Kilo of Elephant-Sedative Carfentanil Seized at Canadian Border Ignites Overdose Worries

Carfentanil, a drug more powerful than fentanyl, has been popping up in headlines frequently lately. Blamed for multiple overdose deaths in Ohio last month, a kilo of the powerful elephant sedative was seized by Canadian officials at a Vancouver mail center in June. This has led to wild speculation and worry among drug watch agencies that more overdose deaths from the drug, which is being used in a lethal mix to boost the potency of heroin, will result in the near future.

The package, discovered by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), was sent from an address in China and led to the arrest of a Calgary man for importation of a controlled substance. The kilo of carfentanil, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, could have produced more than 50 million doses, according to a statement released last Tuesday by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). 

"It is hard to imagine what the impact could have been if even the smallest amounts of this drug were to have made its way to the street,” said George Stephenson of the RCMP in the statement. “The illicit drug trade remains a dynamic and lucrative criminal activity that spans borders throughout the world. The different ports of entry, airports, and rail and road networks are all essential links for the supply of drugs. This highlights that our enforcement partnership with CBSA is critical to the RCMP's efforts to combat illicit drugs and keep our communities safe from harm.”

This is the second recorded seizure of carfentanil in Canada this year, and officials are concerned over the introduction of the drug which requires “a little bit short of a Hazmat suit” for its preparation and handling. First responders have had to use multiple doses of naloxone to treat carfentanil overdoses and sometimes, even that’s not enough. 

"This trend in illicit opioid trafficking is as frightening as it was predictable—we saw the drug trade attempt to decrease import weights while increasing overall supply ... Now they've turned their attention to other known fentanyl analogs that produce effects in infinitesimal quantities," Dr. Hakique Virani, an opioid addictions specialist in Edmonton, told VICE. "So long as there continues to be a large unmet demand for opioids because we aren't treating people with addiction, the illicit market will find ways to meet that demand ... In the meantime, people die."

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