OKLAHOMA CITY - The drug Fentanyl is supposed to be used to treat severe pain, but experts said it has already been linked to dozens of deaths in our state.
Instead of being used by patients, drug agents said it is being abused and killing users.
A report from the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office shows Fentanyl killed 47 Oklahomans from last summer to February of this year.
Now, investigators are looking into whether it caused the mysterious deaths of three people in southwest Oklahoma City.
A single dose of Fentanyl is extremely small.
In fact, it is about the size of two grains of salt.
"Fentanyl is very, very powerful. In some cases, it can be several times stronger than just traditional opiates," said Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward.
Fentanyl is meant for patients with extreme, debilitating pain.
Too often, it's getting in to the wrong hands and sold on the black market or on the street.
"It can come in many shapes and forms. We've seen, for example, Fentanyl patches. It can be put in powder form. It can be put in pills and capsules. It can be used as a cutting agent for heroin that's being brought in from other parts of the world," Woodward said.
In March, three people were found unconscious at a home near S.W. 36th and County Line Rd.
By the time paramedics got there, two of those people were already dead.
A third person died at the hospital.
At first, fire crews thought it was carbon monoxide poisoning, but they ruled that out.
Now, investigators have told NewsChannel 4 they're looking into what they found at that house: a form of Fentanyl.
Agents said they often see it laced with heroin.
"They're always chasing that first high. Their brain will continue to adjust. They're always needing something stronger," Woodward said.
The drug is also a big danger to law enforcement.
"Sometimes, a dog will hit on a scent of marijuana, then you search the vehicle or the person's pockets, and they actually end up with a small amount of marijuana but large amounts of pills," Woodward said.
Fentanyl is easily absorbed through the skin, so first responders and officers who do drug interdiction are being trained now on how to protect themselves from it.
The medical examiner's office is still finishing the report on the deaths in southwest Oklahoma City.
OBNDD reminds people to take their leftover prescribed narcotics to a take-back drop box.