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.
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.