Montgomery County public health officials said Friday that the county has had its first known overdose deaths from carfentanil, the potent opioid used as a tranquilizer for elephants and other large animals.
Toxicology reports found the dangerous opioid in the system of a 43-year-old man who was found dead in a Lower Merion home on June 10, officials said.
The second person, a 65-year-old Philadelphia man, was transported to Lankenau Hospital for treatment of a suspected drug overdose on June 13 and died that day.
The victims’ names were not released pending notification to their next of kin, said a county coroner’s spokeswoman. Both men reportedly had a history of substance use disorder, including heroin, according to the Coroner’s Office.
While these are the first confirmed carfentanil deaths in Montgomery County, there have been other cases in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia.
Carfentanil, developed as a large animal tranquilizer, is said to be 10,000 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than the chemically similar fentanyl. A tiny amount of either drug is enough to cause a fatal overdose.