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CarfentanylCarfentanyl, also known as 4-carbomethoxyfentanyl and Carfentanil, is an extremely potent opioid analgesic and analogue of the common medicinal pain killer fentanyl.

Carfentanyl possesses an extreme potency.

  • It is 10, 000 times more potent than morphine.
  • It is 170 times more potent than heroin.

This makes carfentanyl one of the most potent opioids that are used commercially.

Carfentanyl was first synthesised by a team of chemists at Janssen Pharmaceutica in 1974. It is marketed under the name Wildnil and is used as a general anaesthetic in vetenary medicine for large animals such as elephants and hippos.

In the USA carfentanyl is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance that is illegal to possess without a license.

It is so strong that a few granules the size of grains of table salt can be a lethal dose.   

In 2016 it was identified as an additive to street heroin being sold in Ohio, the result of which was a spike in overdose deaths within the local heroin addict community. 300 people died due to this lacing of heroin with carfentanyl. Shockingly in a single day in Hamilton County there were 48 deaths attributed to the drug.

This was highlighted to a wider public audience when the police department of East Liverpool in Ohio released disturbing pictures of a couple who had overdosed and were unresponsive in the front of their car while a 4 year old child sat in the back.

See Also

  • Alphamethylthiofentanyl

  • Benzylfentanyl

  • Betahydroxythiofentanyl

  • butyrfentanyl

  • Clearly this is a particularly deadly drug when it is misused as a recreational compound. What is most frustrating is that unscrupulous individuals would cut heroin with something as dangerous as carfentanyl. Those who died did not know they were essentially injecting themselves with a laced substance. Those who laced the heroin did so for a profit motivated reason and either did not foresee or did not care of the consequences. It is likely that the gangs did not know the incredible potency of the compound they were dealing with, or mistook it for another fentanyl analogue of lower potency.

Even if the drug user knows that they are dealing with carfentanyl and measures the dose themselves it is still far too strong a compound to be used recreationally. It simply is just too deadly, and a simple accident with dosage will kill.

The carfentanyl that ends up in American heroin is likely manufactured by clandestine labs in China or Mexico and smuggled in to the USA through Mexican drug cartels.

Carfentanyl is also heavily implicated as being a component of the aerosol used in the Moscow theatre hostage crisis of 2002 that killed 125 hostages by respiratory failure.

The drug has a similar effect profile to that of fentanyl.

Side effects include itching, nausea and of course the respiratory depression that has lead to so many deaths by overdose.

Carfentanyl is also known to be highly addictive. Physical dependency develops rapidly with continual use. The individual will have to undergo a gruelling withdrawal if they stop using the drug.