King County officials are warning drug users to avoid cocaine after the deaths of two women who inhaled the drug, which had been laced with a powerful opiate, acetylfentanyl.
King County health officials say two women have died after using cocaine laced with a powerful synthetic opiate — and they’re warning others to stay away from the drug.
Autopsies conducted this week by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the women died after inhaling, or snorting, cocaine contaminated with acetylfentanyl, a manufactured drug five times or more potent than heroin. The drug can kill quickly and without warning.
Though the results are preliminary, officials with Public Health — Seattle & King County regarded the risk great enough to issue a Friday night warning advising drug users to stay away from cocaine.
“There is no way to know whether cocaine is laced with acetylfentanyl, so the best prevention is to avoid cocaine althogether,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer, said in a statement.
Most Read Local Stories
- A worrying coronavirus mutation is discovered in Washington state — but hasn't spread
- Former gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp drops election fraud lawsuit after Washington state threatens legal sanctions
- Coronavirus daily news updates, January 16: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
- Washington state will move to the next phase of coronavirus vaccination in the ‘coming days.’ Here's what that means.
- When will we reach herd immunity? What about vaccines for 65- to 69-year-olds? Q&A with Washington state's health secretary
The last known acetylfentanyl death in King County was in 2015, health officials said. The drug is not the same as fentanyl, a common and powerful painkiller most recently associated with the death of the musician Prince.
Acetylfentanyl is not a prescribed drug. Instead, it is synthesized in unauthorized laboratories. The opiate antidote Narcan, which is used to reverse the effects of heroin, is less effective against acetylfentanyl and may require higher doses, health officials said.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory last fall after reports of fentanyl and acetylfentanyl deaths in multiple states.
No details were immediately available about the two women who died. Officials said they inhaled the contaminated cocaine, rather than injecting it. Officials suspect the women were exposed to the same batch of the tainted drug and that the deaths are not two separate incidents.
An investigation is continuing into the source of the contaminated cocaine.