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Coroner warns against illicit drug

The Abbeville County Coroner, Dr. Mark Dorn, is warning the public about an illicit drug.

It’s a new, illicit drug that is infiltrating the Upstate region, he said.

“It’s called protonitazene,” he said. “It’s 20 times more potent than fentanyl. There is no field test for it, making it more dangerous for first responders and the public in general.”

NARCAN is still an antidote for it, but it would take four to six doses of it to counteract it.

Has he seen it in Abbeville County?

“Not yet, he said. “But there have been three deaths in Oconee County.”

Increasing the public awareness about the fatal consequences of this drug is a good thing.

“It usually comes in a powder mixed with other drugs, or in a stamped pill form,” he said.

“It’s usually manufactured in China or Mexico,” he said.

It began making an appearance in the Upstate in early 2021, Dorn continued.

The drug is classified as a synthetic opioid, and users are typically seeking a high, as with other illicit opioid drugs.

“Just a minute amount is enough to be fatal,” he said.

That amount could be as small as something fitting on the head of a straight pin.

“If you have a family member suffering from some addiction problem that may be seeking purchasing of an illicit drug, treatment services should be sought out,” he continued.

Cornerstone is a community distributor of NARCAN nasal spray, and people are encouraged to call the agency for further information--366-9661--according to Betsy Royal, prevention specialist with Cornerstone. It is distributed free of charge, thanks to a grant from DAODAS, a state agency, she said.

Royal gives presentations to businesses, churches and other community groups about current drug trends and prevention, including overdose death prevention through the use of NARCAN.

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