TBI on Fentaynl craze: ‘It’s a thousand times stronger than heroin.’
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) – A narcotic that can cause death by simply touching it is quickly becoming the most sought after product by Tennessee drug addicts.
According to both TBI director Mark Gwyn and Assistant TBI director T.J. Jordan who is over the TBI Narcotics Division, Fentaynl, is now the narcotic that has drug addicts salivating for a quick hit.
“We’re seeing Fentaynl where heroin may not be accessible. Then of course because of the strength it of Fentaynl, it supersedes heroin as far as trafficking,” Jordan said.
Fentaynl is synthetic opioid used to manage pain. It’s often considered to be a pharmaceutical heroin on steroids.
“It’s 100 to a thousand times stronger than heroin itself, so what we then have is an epidemic of drug overdose,” Jordan said.
“If you get someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or they are just willing to try something new, that’s when you find someone with a needle in their arm dead, because it’s that potent,” said Pharmacist Phil Smith of Access Family Pharmacy in Hixson.
Fentaynl is so potent that law enforcement officer are being advised by TBI officials to take extra precaution when making a drug bust or searching a suspect for illegal narcotics. Fentaynl can be absorbed through the skin which can put an officer’s life in danger.
“In essence, what you could have is a scenario when an officer touches it unknowingly; thinking it is heroin and then immediately overdoses,” Jordan said.
“If you come in contact with the gel from the patches or the powder out in the field if you’re an officer that can be really dangerous. They need to be wearing gloves. If there is powder involved, they need to be wearing a mask,” Smith said.
When comparing a heroin overdose to a Fentaynl overdose, Smith told News 12 it’s like comparing apples to oranges.
“With a heroin overdose, you got a little bit of time to administer the antidote. Fentaynl is probably a couple of minutes and then you’re done. That’s how potent it is compared to heroin,” Smith said.
Most recently in Chattanooga, a woman was convicted for the Fentaynl related death of a child. Jaquelne Escareno was found guilty of negligent homicide after Hamilton county prosecutors proved she placed a Fentaynl patch on 23-month old Demarcus Bryant. Bryant died from a Fentaynl overdose.
Escareno will be sentenced in May.