Mystery opioid linked to dozens of overdoses, 4 deaths in Georgia

As many as four people have died and dozens have been sickened in the central and southern part of Georgia after overdosing on some type of street drug sold as a'yellow pill

Georgia health officials held a press conference Tuesday regarding the recent overdose deaths and mass hospitalizations throughout Bibb and Houston counties where several people were found unconscious and not breathing. It's being sold on the street as Percocet. "However, when it's taken, the patients are experiencing significant and severe decreased levels of consciousness and respiratory failure". The health department noted that the drugs involved in the overdoses are likely not real prescription drugs, or may contain other compounds that were unknown to the consumers.

"This is a national issue", Dr. Patrick O'Neal, director of the state Department of Public Health, shared.

Georgia Poison Center is now working with the hospitals and gathering more information to determine whether these additional cases are connected to the cluster of overdoses reported in the past three days. Miles said there could be more deaths from the drug. All of Navicent Health's overdose patients so far have swallowed the medicine, Hendry said. Most patients who were brought in had slurred speech and had trouble breathing.

Lopez said Navicent Health first contacted the poison center late Monday night after treating five people - all from the same household - for overdoses.

An official with the Georgia Department of Public Health addresses the press on Tuesday.'Call 911 immediately if you have taken the pills or if you think someone has, the agency said

The Bibb County Sheriff's Office has some Narcan kits but should receive more in the next month through a grant from the Medical Association of Georgia, Davis said.

Naloxone is an emergency drug used to reverse opioid overdoses. And he warned residents not to take any medications other than those prescribed by a physician or obtained at a pharmacy.

Officials said Tuesday that they were awaiting tests to confirm the cause of the deaths and overdoses. These symptoms led doctors to suspect opioid overdose, but toxicology results won't be back for at least a couple of days.

Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the DEA, said Tuesday at DEA headquarters in suburban Washington that while the United States makes up about 5 percent of the world's population, "we consume an overwhelming percentage of the world's prescription pain medication", especially hydrocodone and oxycodone. "We've never seen this number of overdoses in such a short time like this", said Hendry.

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