Home > News > Press Releases 

Medical Examiner Public Health Warning


Media Contact:
Christopher Harris


CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson issued a public health warning today, indicating that the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office has detected carfentanil in pills that have been disguised to appear as OxyContin. The drugs were submitted to our office from the Cleveland Police Department, and are being considered as a very serious development that could lead to more overdose deaths.

"Today the Cuyahoga County Drug Chemistry Laboratory identified carfentanil in pills that were made to look like OxyContin tablets. This situation is alarming, as the potency of carfentail is substantially greater than the oxycodone found in OxyContin, and there is a serious risk of unintentional overdose in their use," said Dr. Gilson. "People who recreationally use OxyContin purchased from street sources should be aware of this very dangerous development that may result in rapid death. These fake tablets are illegally manufactured to resemble OxyContin. The supply of tablets dispensed legally from a pharmacy will not be affected by this."

OxyContin is a powerful opioid (Oxycodone) used to treat severe pain. Carfentanil, a large animal sedative, is 5000 times more potent than Oxycodone, and is unsafe for human use. In 2016, Cuyahoga County suffered 58 confirmed fatal cases containing carfentnail.

If you or anyone that you know is actively using or recovering from opioid addiction, contact Project DAWN for information at 216-778-5677.  Eligible program participants are given FREE Naloxone kits – the opioid reversing antidote.

Additionally, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board f Cuyahoga County provides a 24-hour crisis hotline at 216-623-6888.