A deadly synthetic drug powerful enough to tranquilize elephants has been linked to three overdose deaths in New Hampshire, marking one of the drug's first appearances in New England.
Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday the drug carfentanil has been linked to the March deaths of two men in Manchester and one in Meredith. Carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, the drug responsible for most of New Hampshire's nearly 500 overdose deaths last year.
"It presents a serious risk to public safety, first responders, medical treatment and laboratory personnel because it can be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled, so these individuals should exercise extreme caution and seek immediate medical attention should exposure occur," Sununu said. "We are continuing to assess the situation, but there is clearly enough evidence to make the public aware and we felt it was imperative to urge caution for those that may come in contact with this substance."
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's acting administrator described carfentanil last fall as "crazy dangerous." It is typically used as a tranquilizer for elephants and other large mammals.
It has been linked to a number of deaths in the Midwest, and the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a public warning about the drug in September.
State officials say the carfentanil used in the New Hampshire deaths was manufactured illegally. No arrests have been made.