ATLANTA - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released its initial test results on a new street drug which is manufactured to look like Percocet. Results show the drug is a mix of two synthetic opioids, one of which is consistent with a new fentanyl analogue.
The GBI Crime Lab reported the fentanyl analogue had not been previously identified and testing required additional time.
Meanwhile, the number of overdoses possibly linked to the street drug in Middle Georgia has continued to grow.
The Georgia Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that six additional overdose cases have been reported and may be related to the street drug which has been linked to four deaths and more than a dozen hospitalizations in central and South Georgia.
The additional cases were not fatal, and the Georgia Poison Center is working with the hospital to determine if they are connected to the cluster of overdoses reported on Tuesday.
Investigators said the overdoses announced on Tuesday were reported over a two-hour span in Centerville, Perry, Macon, Warner Robins, and Albany. They also said the drugs are possibly being sold in other areas of the state.
The poisonous pills are out there but in what quantities remains a mystery. Patients told officials they purchased yellow pills which they thought were Percocet.
A big unknown is where else the dangerous yellow pills could turn up beyond Bibb County, where it's believed at least four deaths are connected to them.
"That's the scary part that it may go beyond the cluster that we see in Macon," said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the Director of Georgia's Poison Center.
"Mexican drug cartels are manufacturing fentanyl into Percocet pills, and oxycodone and other type pills as well, but it's a way for these bad people to make a very good living on the backs of addiction and that's what they are targeting," said Special Agent in Charge Dan Salter, DEA.
"They are actively pursuing the leads and trying to track down where these drugs are coming from, so law enforcement is working around the clock on this," said Nelly Miles, GBI.
First responders say patients were unconscious or unresponsive and had difficulty breathing or stopped breathing, and many of them required ventilators.
In the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta pharmacist, Ira Katz told FOX 5 News about his concerns. "I'm very concerned about what is out there labeled Percocet," said Katz. He said while quantities are unknown, the methods of cutting Percocet with fentanyl and other poisons isn't.
"They're crushing it, mixing them up putting them in powder packs, you can go on the Internet," said Katz.
At the Zone, a recovery center in Marietta, participants are talking about the new drug scare. Executive Director Missy Owen established the Zone after her son Davis died from a heroin overdose in 2014. She now fears pressed Percocet could lull abusers into a false sense of security.
"I think that pressed pills are becoming more and more prevalent out on the street and I think that kids are still under the impression that pills are safer than heroin," said Owen.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is advising emergency responders to be extra careful when responding to calls involving the pressed pills. "That means double gloves, that means using your proper protective equipment, gowns, lab coats," said Nelly Miles with the GBI.