Maryland officials said Friday that three people have died of apparent overdoses of the synthetic drug carfentanil.
Two Anne Arundel County residents and one Frederick County resident were apparently killed by the drug, state officials said. The deaths occurred in the last few weeks.
"Carfentanil is the latest in a string of deadly drugs that have exacted a horrible toll on residents in Maryland and across the country," Maryland Department of Health and Mental Secretary Dennis R. Schrader said in a statement.
Last September, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued a warning to law enforcement about carfentanil, an opioid federal officials say is 100 times deadlier than fentanyl, which is 50 times deadlier than heroin. State officials say fentanyl abuse is partly causing the dramatic rise in overdose deaths here.
State officials are urging Marylanders who struggle with drug use to visit MdDestinationRecovery.org or call the Maryland Crisis Hotline at 1-800-422-0009.
Gov. Larry Hogan this year formed the Opioid Operational Command Center and declared a state of emergency to better combat the opioid problem in Maryland.
The synthetic opioid carfentanil was detected by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner when performing autopsies.
For the first nine months of last year, there were 1,468 unintentional intoxication deaths in Maryland — a sharp spike from previous years. Drug overdoses now kill far more people in Maryland than either car crashes or homicides.