CLEVELAND — Officials in northeast Ohio are issuing a warning after detecting a large animal sedative in pills disguised as the pain medication OxyContin.

Cuyahoga County’s medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Gilson, said in a statement Wednesday that the pills were discovered by Cleveland police. He says they contain carfentanil, an opioid used to tranquilize elephants.

The sedative is thousands of times more powerful than OxyContin and was linked to 58 deaths in Cuyahoga County last year. It’s so toxic that an amount of carfentanil smaller than a poppy seed can kill a person. The sedative was researched for years as a chemical weapon.

Gilson says that people who purchase pills on the street are most at risk of accidentally overdosing. Pills supplied by pharmacies are not affected.

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