SHANGHAI - This summer, carfentanil — one of the most potent opioids on the planet — hit the streets of North America. Many users who thought they were taking heroin actually injected or snorted a substance that has until recently been viewed as a chemical weapon . First responders pumped hundreds of dying, bluish people full of the antidote naloxone to try to make them breathe again.
Legally used as a tranquilizer for large animals like bears and elephants, carfentanil is so potent that an amount smaller than a poppy seed can kill a person. How such a toxic substance made its way into global narcotics supply chains is a matter of economics, and desperation.