COLUMBUS, Ohio (WANE) A synthetic opioid that can be up to 40 times more powerful than fentanyl is turning up in Ohio according to Attorney General Dave Yost.

He issued a warning Wednesday regarding nitazenes, a drug classification originally synthesized in the 1950s to study its pain-killing properties.

“Frankenstein opioids are even more lethal than the drugs already responsible for so many overdose deaths,” Yost said. “Law enforcement and the public need to pay attention to these emerging hazards.” Yost said. “Law enforcement and the public need to pay attention to these emerging hazards.” 

In the first quarter of 2022, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation reported 143 nitazene cases in Ohio, up from 27 cases in the same quarter of 2021.

In some instances, nitazenes are being found in combination with other drugs, primarily fentanyl and fentanyl pharmacophores but also tramadol, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and PCP analogs.

Recent studies show that nitazine compounds can be anywhere from 1.5 to 40 times more potent than fentanyl.

Additional doses of naloxone may be required to reverse overdoses involving nitazene. Officers and first responders, BCI cautions in its bulletin, should handle all items suspected of containing nitazenes or fentanyl-related substances with caution and proper personal protective equipment.