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Three dead after new drug more powerful than fentanyl found in Upstate

Protonitazene has no medically accepted use
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Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 5:33 PM EDT
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OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A local coroner has a warning for the western Carolinas and northeastern Georgia after a new drug has been found in the region and contributed to three deaths in February.

Protonitazene is a new synthetic opioid that is approximately three times more potent than fentanyl according to a recent study. It causes rapid sedation, respiratory depression and potentially death.

Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said protonitazene has no medically accepted use. It’s being distributed alone or combined with heroin, fentanyl or other synthetic opioids.

The drug can come in tablets or powders.

Addis said protonitazene is partially responsible after a 24-year-old woman died at her home in Westminster and two men, 45 and 65 years old, were found dead outside a home in West Union. Toxicology results showed other substance abuse as well, Addis said.

All three deaths happened between Feb. 12 and 14.