FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A new drug that is incredibly lethal could soon appear in the valley.
Experts say it’s up to 20 times more powerful than fentanyl and has already made rounds on San Francisco streets.
The drug is called Isotonitazene, or simply ‘ISO’.
The interim health officer for the Fresno County Department of Health told me Friday, the life-saving drug naloxone, commonly known as the brand-name Narcan, may not work against ‘ISO’.
“They may require, you know, ICU level of care where they get hooked up to a breathing machine because they’re not responding to Naloxone,” said Interim Health Officer for the Fresno County Department of Health, Dr. Rais Vohra.
There have not been any reports of ‘ISO’ in Fresno or in the county yet.
But it’s certainly on the radar of local health officials.
“It’s definitely a challenge. It’s quite concerning. Like I said, I work in poison control, I just alerted my staff… We’re going to learn more about what’s going on in the coming days to weeks,” he said.
Doctor Vohra says ‘ISO’ is often used to contaminate other street or prescription drugs.
A terrifying reality for those who face addiction, or those whose loved ones have a problem themselves.
And for parents like Elaine Hudson, who lost her son Frankie to an overdose in 2020.
She said it’s unthinkable more parents could go through the tragedy she’s faced, all thanks to opioids.
“Losing a child is unbearable, and no parent should have to find their child dead in their room. That’s… devastating. I mean, it changed my life forever,” she said.
Dr. Vohra said this drug is even more dangerous because it’s so difficult to detect.
“It’s just impossible to test every case because this drug doesn’t show up on urine drug screens, you have to do special testing for it. And people aren’t really walking in with a batch full of specimens for us to test,” he said.
“So we really have to do quite a lot of hard work to educate people and build that trust so that we can figure out exactly how widespread this contamination might be,” he added.
Dr. Vohra said even though naloxone, or Narcan, may not work against ‘ISO’, they still ask you try it if you come across someone suffering an overdose, or if you overdose yourself.
He said you can access the life-saving medicine if you visit area hospitals or healthcare providers.
If you wish to find more addiction resources, visit the Fresno County website substance abuse prevention page.