A new street drug is causing overdoses and deaths around the country as heroin users either accidentally or intentionally purchase the drug on the street. Acryl fentanyl is a new and dangerous street drug that has killed 17 people so far this year, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office reported Wednesday. And in Ohio, The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab has issued an alert about acryl fentanyl, saying that the new drug has been observed in 140 cases, and so far may have caused at least one overdose death.

In Minnesota, the drug is considered so dangerous that the Minnesota state Controlled Substance Board announced an emergency rule last month classifying the opioid as a Schedule 1 drug, determining that the action was “necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety.” Anne Arundel County, Maryland, fentanyl and its derivatives have caused 83% of recent fatal overdoses.

Acryl fentanyl isn’t sold by any pharmaceutical company, but authorities guess it’s being manufactured in China and sold over the dark web. The drug is said to be stronger than fentanyl, a drug that’s 50 times stronger than regular street heroin.

Fentanyl itself is so dangerous to handle for most non-drug users that even coroner’s offices have to keep extra doses of Narcan, an opioid antagonist, on hand in case they encounter traces of it on a dead body and experience a dangerous overdose.

Acryl fentanyl, however, has been found to be very resistant to Narcan doses. Traces of the drug remain in the body as Narcan begins to wear off, meaning that users may require additional Narcan doses to stay alive once they have been initially resuscitated.

The overdose deaths may have been users who didn’t even know they were consuming acryl fentanyl. Many drug dealers spike their batches of heroin with drugs such as fentanyl in order to help the users get a longer high, choosing to risk their customers dying in order to sell a product that’s touted as the strongest high available on the local black market.

One problem, medical examiners explain, about new street drugs is that new compounds are usually are added as other ingredients become illegal or unavailable. Until the government makes serious efforts to prevent the import of drugs such as this from China, many more cities are going to see overdoses caused by this drug. And as the drugs grow even stronger, more of those OD’s are going to be fatalities.

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