Eight overdoses reported in Houston and Bibb counties since Saturday are suspected to be related to poisonous tablets being sold on the streets under the guise of a prescription pain killer.
One person overdosed in Macon on Monday after taking some of the round white pills Bibb County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Gonzalez called “fake Percocets.”
Seven others were hospitalized for suspected overdoses in Houston County, and some of them are only breathing with aide from ventilators, Warner Robins Police Department said in a news release Tuesday. The patients range in age from 25 to 60.
Just two months ago, a similar outbreak involving poisonous yellow pills reportedly resulted in four deaths and the hospitalization of nearly 20 people. The GBI tested some of the oblong yellow tablets, which also were being passed off as Percocets, and found the pills contained a Fentanyl analogue, a toxic synthetic opiate blend.
The synthetic drug is about 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
The yellow pills also contained a drug never before encountered by Georgia law enforcement.
The suspicious white pill reportedly being passed around now is thick and glossy, Warner Robins police said. The letters “RP” are embossed on one side of the pills with a“10” above “325” on the other.
Warner Robins Assistant Police Chief John Wagner said the first of the overdoses in Houston County was reported Saturday night. One overdose occurred in Centerville, and the remainder in Warner Robins, he said.
Those who overdosed either came into the Houston Medical Center emergency room, or emergency responders were dispatched to their homes and, in one case, to a place of business, Wagner said.
Police were able to interview some of those who overdosed and piece together that they had taken pills that they thought were Percocet pills, Wagner said.
Additionally, police were able to retrieve a fake pill that was then sent to a GBI crime lab, along with victim blood samples, Wagner said.
Some of victims received the opiate antidote Narcan, he said.
“I can empathize with you if you’re in pain,” Wagner said. “But retrieving pills off the street ... you don’t know where these pills have come from.”
“You can possibly ingest something that is lethal, and in these cases, gone untreated, would have been fatal for these people,” Wagner said.
Wagner said authorities do no know whether the yellow and white pills are coming from the same source.
“We can’t say that there is a for-sure link with that,” Wagner said. “But that is something that we definitely investigate to see if indeed they moved from yellow pill to white pill, the same person or the same supplier. ... Or do we have a new person or a new type of pill that’s on the street that we need to be worried about from a totally different source?”