Speed Reads

opioid crisis

Unidentified drug causes dozens of overdoses in Georgia

Authorities are trying to figure out what is inside a mysterious yellow pill that is so potent it killed four people in central Georgia and sent dozens to the hospital.

Starting Sunday, paramedics were called to the scene of several overdoses, and once the patients arrived at the hospital, most had to undergo aggressive treatment, Dr. Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center, told USA Today. Chris Hendry, chief medical officer at Navicent Health in Macon, said the pill can cause people to lose consciousness and go into severe respiratory failure.

The drug is new, Hendry said, and they are trying to identify it. Several patients said they thought they were buying Percocet, a potentially addictive opioid used to treat pain. In May, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab launched an investigation into counterfeit pills, and found that more than 450 contained fentanyl, an opioid that can be 100 times stronger than morphine. Last year, nearly 1,300 people fatally overdosed on drugs in Georgia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.