Attorney General warns Ohioans of ‘Frankenstein opioids’, up to 40 times more potent than Fentanyl

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is warning Ohioans of an emerging synthetic opioid that can be up to 40 times more potent than fentanyl.

“We call them ‘Frankenstein opioids’ because they’re just like regular opioids, but they’ve been chemically altered in an underground lab just a little bit to try and evade detection,” Yost said.

Yost said “Frankenstein opioids” were “even more lethal than the drugs already responsible for so many overdose deaths.”

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Yost told News Center 7′s John Bedell that “Frankenstein opioids,” also known as nitazenes, are being detected more and more across Ohio.

In the first three months of 2021, the Attorney General’s Office reported 27 nitazene cases. Over that same time frame this year, they have detected 143, reporting 429 percent increase.

A bulletin recently issued by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation said that nitazene compounds, from a drug class known as benzimidazole-opioids, were originally synthesized in the 1950s to research their analgesic effects.

In the first three months of this year, data from the Attorney General’s Office showed that at least 20 cases of nitazene compounds being found in Montgomery County. Yost said Dayton being a “crossroads” contributed to the high case count.

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“Dayton is there at the crossroads, right? With I-75 coming down from Detroit and I-70 going through town. We’ve seen a lot of activity in Montgomery County for years because of that logistical location,” Yost said. “So that is just following along with that pattern we saw with fentanyl or heroin before that or even meth.”

Frankenstein opioids are primarily found in fentanyl but can also be found in combination with other drugs, like tramadol, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and PCP.

Because of its potency, additional doses of naloxone may be required to reverse overdoses involving nitazene.

Yost urges officers and first responders to handle all items suspected to contain nitazene or fentanyl-related substances with caution.