PEORIA (WEEK) - For months now, a dangerous drug, Brorphine, has been getting the attention of health experts in central Illinois. Now one of them is sounding the alarm.
This synthetic opioid is now connected to several deaths in Peoria County and more across the country.
Brorphine began popping up two years ago and has now been identified in the Midwest.
"Over the last four months, we've detected the drug Brorphine in three of our ToxScreens," Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said.
Harwood says it's similar to fentanyl. Some of the chemical components are the same.
"The difference is the potency. The Brorphine is more potent and it can also cause cardiac dysrhythmia's and sudden cardiac death," Harwood said.
Brorphine is generally found within methamphetamines, heroin or cocaine and has started claiming the lives of those with substance disorder.
"Just under 20 people have lost their lives due to this drug, three of those now have been from Peoria county," Harwood said.
Harwood says if you are struggling with addiction, the JOLT foundation is available for additional resources for harm reduction and prevention, and UnityPlace for addiction recovery programs and services.
"We provide resources that can help prevent an overdose and can also reverse an overdose," program director at JOLT Chris Schaffner said.
Schaffner says they don't have any confirmed instances of the drug, but have had some unanswered questions about recent overdoses that could have been caused by Brorphine.
"We've had multiple reports from people that are experiencing rapid overdoses as a result of using," Schaffner said.
"But they were testing fentanyl, and fentanyl was not coming up as a substance they were using."
Brorphine does not have widespread use yet, so Harwood wanted to make the public aware.
"We've had several people that have survived overdoses, but a growing number of reported overdoses," Schaffner said.
Both Harwood and Schaffner say it is important for those suffering with substance use disorder to not use alone, and to keep multiple doses of Narcan available. JOLT provides Narcan for free.