A deadly opioid is causing a record number of overdose deaths in the Midwest. The drug is a synthetic opioid (meaning, it is made in a lab, not from poppies) called carfentanil, and experts say it is “100 times more potent than fentanyl, the prescription painkiller that led to the death earlier this year of the pop star Prince. Fentanyl itself can be up to 50 times more deadly than heroin.”

The drug is legal only for use by veterinarians for very large animals, such as elephants. No amount is safe for human use.

The drug has not been reported as having a significant presence in the Northwest so far, but Ohio officials have declared a public health emergency and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says communities everywhere should be on alert for carfentanil.

(In addition to writer Melissa Rocker’s Rolling Stone magazine story link above, see the National Public Radio coverage by reporter Jennifer Ludden.)