Warning over highly toxic batch of drugs after two people found dead in Essex

Police forces have warned of a dangerous opioid in circulation.
Credit: PA
Police are warning of a highly toxic synthetic opioid found in drugs. Credit: PA

Police are warning of a highly toxic batch of drugs containing a synthetic opioid similar to fentanyl after the deaths of two people in Essex.

A man and a woman in their 40s died in Basildon yesterday in an incident described as "drug-related" by Essex Police.

Officers discovered a harmful synthetic opioid, known as etonitazene, at the scene which could pose a high risk to anyone using it or handling it.

Etonitazene has a similar or higher toxicity to fentanyl and is added to illicit drugs like heroin to enhance the potency.

Synthetic opioids can substantially increase the risk of respiratory arrest in users and Essex police said they were working hard to "prevent any further deaths."

Detective Inspector Kevin Hughes urged people to avoid illegal drugs altogether.

"I would urge people not to take any illegal substances at any time, but particularly not at this time," he said.

He added that drug users should have the opioid antidote, naloxone, to hand. The current advice is that naloxone should work to counteract the effects of nitazine-type drugs.

Police in Northamptonshire have also issued a warning after they seized a batch of drugs in Kettering which was found to contain a high concentration of fentanyl.

Detective Inspector Becky Simmons said: “Protecting people from harm is the most important responsibility that a police officer has and that means doing everything we can to warn people about a potential threat to their lives."

Police are strongly advising all drug users to get support from local drug services, as being in treatment greatly reduces the risks of harm and overdose.

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