(WKBN) – Ohio’s Attorney General is warning people of dangerous synthetic opioids more powerful than fentanyl that are popping up in the state.

“Frankenstein opioids are even more lethal than the drugs already responsible for so many overdose deaths,” Attorney General Dave Yost said. “Law enforcement and the public need to pay attention to these emerging hazards.” 

A bulletin recently issued by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) says that nitazene compounds – from a drug class known as benzimidazole-opioids – were originally synthesized in the 1950s to research their analgesic effects. They are not approved for medical use anywhere in the world but are currently being made in clandestine labs.

In the first quarter of 2022, BCI reported 143 nitazene cases in Ohio, up from 27 cases in the same quarter of 2021.

In some instances, nitazenes are being found in combination with other drugs, primarily fentanyl and fentanyl pharmacophores but also tramadol, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and PCP analogs.

Recent studies show that nitazene compounds can be anywhere from 1.5 to 40 times more potent than fentanyl.

Additional doses of naloxone may be required to reverse overdoses involving nitazene, according to Yost’s office.

April Caraway, executive director of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said health officials haven’t seen the drug around the area yet and that the bulletin from Yost’s office was the first that she has heard of it.

Dr. John Sorboro, an addiction specialist at Mercy Health, called Nitazenes “a scary class of drugs. If we’re increasingly finding them in the illicit market that’s a bad thing because of their potency.”