Two recent drug overdose deaths in south Madison County have been associated with dangerous counterfeit or altered drugs.

At the scene of a December Ridgeland overdose death, investigators found several dosage units of what appeared to be oxycodone hydrochloride, an opioid analgesic.

But lab analysis determined the suspected oxycodone hydrochloride was actually carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and strong enough to kill a horse.

In that case, the victim was a 26-year-old male who was found unconscious by a neighbor. A female, the deceased’s girlfriend, was also found at the scene showing signs of an overdose. She received medical treatment on scene and was released.

In November, MBN and Madison Police Department along with the Madison County coroner responded to a Madison residence where they found a man unresponsive.

At the scene, investigators found almost a dozen dosage units of what appeared to be Xanax, a brand of alprazolam used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.

Subsequent lab analysis determined the suspected Xanax was actually clonazolam. Although chemically related to alprazolam, clonazolam is reported to be more than two times as potent as alprazolam. 

“According to analysts, ingesting only a half milligram of clonazolam can lead to amnesia and/or loss of consciousness,” said MBN Director John Dowdy.

Dowdy emphasized the importance of obtaining powerful drugs from pharmaceutical professionals through a pharmacy. 

“As in previous alerts, I want to remind everybody to not take any kind of drug that is not obtained from a pharmacy,” Dowdy said. “The consequences of using non-prescribed medication could result in death.”

Last year, Mississippi drug overdose deaths reached a record high — boosted in part by heroin, sometimes laced with the even more dangerous fentanyl.

“Mississippi is emerging on the brink of a super pandemic,” Dowdy said at the time.

This pandemic can’t be ignored.