ATLANTA — A string of drug overdoses has hospitalized dozens and may have killed up to four people in central and southwest Georgia, investigators said Tuesday.
Officials in Macon said toxicology tests were pending but that dozens of people appear to have overdosed over the past 48 hours. They told reporters that those affected took opioids “being sold on the street as Percocet.”
“We’ve never seen this many overdoses in such short a time,” said Dr. Christopher Hendry, chief medical officer for Navicent Health.
Percocet is a prescription opioid containing a blend of acetaminophen and oxycodone.
Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health, described the drugs in a statement as “a dangerous, potentially lethal substance contained in street drugs.”
She said dozens of patients who overdosed over the past two days had bought “yellow pills alleged to be Percocet.”
“It is extremely potent and has required massive doses of naloxone to counteract its effects,” Nydam said. “Testing is being done to identify the pills and the ingredients.”
Officials said first responders have found overdose victims unconscious or unresponsive and having difficulty breathing in the Macon area as well as in the cities of Centerville, Perry, and Warner Robins.
WMAZ, a local television station, identified two of the overdose fatalities as Gregory Mitchell, 52, of Macon, and Amirrah Gillens, 36.
The Department of Public Health has also received reports of similar overdoses occurring in Albany, Ga., two hours southwest of Macon.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis told reporters, “it seems someone has developed this pill and is passing it off as a prescription medicine.” David said his investigators had not yet determined the source of the drugs — but encouraged residents, including drug users, to reach out to authorities with tips.
Other parts of Georgia struggled with deadly batches of opioids in recent months. Back in April, two people died in a string of four heroin and fentanyl overdoses in Forsyth County just north of Atlanta. Last month Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed Georgia’s first death related to the potent combination of heroin and fentanyl known as “gray death.”
Houston County Coroner Daniel Galpin told STAT that he’s only seen a handful of fatal overdoses related to drugs. “Usually, they’ll overdose on prescription drugs,” he said.