Officials warn of new drug deadly to the touch

Posted at 7:32 PM, May 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-06 19:32:00-04

CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. (CNN) - America's growing opioid crisis just got a little worse.

Authorities in Georgia are now warning officers about two new street drugs that are popping up across the state. They are so dangerous that even touching them can be deadly.

"Eventually, we want to be able to have it readily available to our citizens," said Bud Benefield, Deputy Chief, Caroll County Fire Rescue.

In Carroll County, just outside Atlanta, Deputy Chief Bud Benefield is on a mission. He wants every first responder to carry Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

"Sometimes they are revived in as little as 2 to 3 minutes," said Benefield.

Sounds like a miracle drug... "It does. It sounds like a miracle drug," said Benefield.

But the miracle drug, may have not be so miraculous when it comes to the street drugs Furanyl, Fentanyl and U-47700, both on the rise in Georgia, and both so strong, investigators say a single dose of Narcan may not be enough.

"That's very, very scary," said Nelly Miles. Miles speaks for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which she says has seen some combination of the drugs 50 times this year, causing 17 deaths, the same number as in all of 2016.

"This crop of synthetic opioids is for us, unheard of. It is unprecedented to see these types of concoctions coming into the crime labs here in Georgia," said Miles.

The drugs have all the trappings of Fentanyl, an opioid that's often linked to overdoses and deaths. But, these next generation drugs are so potent, Miles says even touching them can be deadly.

"They are transdermals, that means that it can be absorbed through the skin. So if you're not wearing your personal protective gear, you can be exposed and at risk," said Miles.

What makes the drugs even scarier is they're sometimes pressed into pills meant to look like more common street drugs. Even for drug users, every high is Russian roulette.

"These days you have no idea what you're getting. So the moral to the story is just stay away from it all. It's just really out of control," said Miles.

Miles says the drugs are made in China, and often come through Mexico before reaching the United States. These drugs are so new that it was just last month that Georgia officially outlawed them. Other states are still catching up.

"It's becoming a nationwide epidemic," said Benefield.