Return of carfentanil deaths in Cuyahoga County has officials wary of ‘fourth wave’ of opioid epidemic


CLEVELAND, Ohio – One year after Cuyahoga County saw a dramatic decrease in deaths from a powerful fentanyl analogue that is used as an animal sedative, a resurgence of the dangerous drug has officials concerned it could become a deadly “fourth wave” of the opioid epidemic.

Cuyahoga County deaths attributed to carfentanil dropped from 191 in 2017 to just 24 in 2018, according to statistics from the medical examiner’s office. The decrease proved temporary, as carfentanil contributed to at least 220 deaths in 2019.