CNN Two synthetic opioids have been found in fake prescription pills suspected to have caused a cluster of overdoses this week in Georgia, including four deaths, according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
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Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. Deaths from synthetic opioids on the rise Story highlights Fake prescription painkillers are the suspected cause of an overdose cluster in Georgia this week One of the drugs in the pills is still a mystery and may be a new compound. One of the drugs is still unidentified and may be a new compound, according to a GBI representative.
The unknown opioid is a modified type of fentanyl that the GBI Crime Lab had never seen, the bureau said. The pills were made to resemble the prescription painkiller Percocet and sold on the street, according to state officials.
Miles said synthetic drugs like this one are coming in from overseas, where fentanyl molecules are altered slightly in an effort to skirt US laws. Then, they may be packed into pill presses in the United States, she said.
Overdose cluster in Georgia linked to mystery pill.
Fentanyl is 50 to times more potent than the drug morphine, and experts say some fentanyl-like molecules can be far more potent. Further testing is required to verify the identity of the new drug, the bureau said.
The second opioid found was a known synthetic drug, Miles said, but its name is being withheld until the full analysis of both drugs is complete. This could take days, she said.
Those who overdosed thought they were swallowing Percocet, but the overdose symptoms were "much more severe in onset," Dr. Christopher Hendrychief medical officer of Navicent Health, said Tuesday.
Navicent Health was one of three hospitals in Georgia known to have received the overdose patients. Investigators noticed that the imprints on the counterfeit pills were made "at an angle" and not as deep as the manufacturer's pills.
The powerful street drug that's puzzling authorities. Over two dozen people are thought to have overdosed over three days, including the four deaths, according to a representative for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
But toxicology results are still pending, and these numbers are "very fluid," the spokeswoman said. The patients, mostly brought in by ambulance, appeared sleepy, had slurred speech and had difficulty breathing, Hendry said.
These symptoms led doctors at several Georgia hospitals to suspect opioid overdose. Other street drugs -- such as the opioid concoction known as "grey death" -- have recently been linked to overdoses in Georgia and other parts of the South. Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said Tuesday that he suspected "someone has developed this particular pill Bibb County officers have been following leads and White pill a 04, but the investigation is ongoing, the sheriff's office confirmed.