Officials warn about spread of 'gray death' drug

- Authorities are warning Chicago-area residents about a new derivative of heroin called "gray death," which is killing people at an alarming rate around the country.

The drug is cocktail of several opioids such as heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil, according to Kane County Coroner Rob Russell.  WCPO reports that the drug is seven times more potent than morphine.

It gets its name from its concrete-mix-like appearance and varies in consistency from chunks to a fine powder.

"It has been difficult enough to warn citizens of pure heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, and other opiates. Now all of these substances, and more, are being combined together and used at an alarming rate and people are dying because of it,"  Russell said in a statement.

Russell said "gray death" can be absorbed through the skin, putting first responders at serious risk.

Although it's unclear if "gray death" has arrived in the Chicago area, Russell said he wants to get the word out before lives are lost.

"If this news release saves one life because a citizen recognizes 'gray death,' it is worth it. That is my hope. I want to save some lives," Russell said in the statement.

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