- Associated Press - Thursday, July 13, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The number of overdose deaths in the state linked to a deadly synthetic drug powerful enough to tranquilize elephants is up to 10, the attorney general said.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald also said that within the last month 18 people have been indicted on charges including possession and sale of the drug, called carfentanil.

MacDonald said on Wednesday that, as with the prior overdose deaths, the most recent deaths are the subject of ongoing investigations. No further details on them have been released.

MacDonald also said his office is reviewing 39 cases involving carfentanil, which is recognized as being about 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, an opioid pain medication. The drug is used to tranquilize large game, such as elephants. It also can be absorbed through the skin, so non-drug users can overdose by simply touching it.

The attorney general’s office has said the drug is not being manufactured in New Hampshire but is being brought in from other states. The majority of the office’s cases are in the southern part of the state.

MacDonald released his update as the office of the chief medical examiner released its latest drug report update, saying New Hampshire had 143 drug deaths this year, most related to fentanyl. The medical examiner’s office also said there are 71 cases from this year that are awaiting toxicology results.

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