'Yellow pills' cause mass overdose in Georgia, police say

Responders found some people unconscious and not breathing, and they had to be put on ventilators.

"There is a new drug that's surfaced in our community", Hendry said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. She said pills on the street are often laced with many other drugs.

The victims reportedly ingested a "yellow pill", which authorities have not yet definitely identified.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, meanwhile, reported earlier Tuesday that dozens of overdoses have been reported in Macon, Centerville, Perry, Warner Robins and Albany.

In Europe, drug overdose deaths rose 6 percent to 8,441 in 2015, rising for the third straight year, driven by the increasing use of opioids like fentanyl, Europe's Lisbon-based drug monitoring agency said on Tuesday.

Authorities have not yet identified the deadly drug in the "yellow pills", but warn it "has required massive doses of naloxone to counteract its effects". The health department noted that the drugs involved in the overdoses are likely not real prescription drugs, or may contain other compounds that were unknown to the consumers. Hendry said Navicent Health is working with the state to make sure they have adequate supplies of Narcan, although the medicine isn't effective in every case.

Toxicology reports are not back yet on what exactly the drug is that's leading to the current outbreak of overdoses in middle Georgia.

Police in Georgia say the illicit "yellow pills", which are being sold as Percocet, can cause severe levels of consciousness and respiratory failure.

"This is something we have been fearing would happen over a period of time", said Dr. Patrick O'Neal, director of health protection for the state Department of Public Health.

The opioid crisis in America has pushed overdose-death statistics to new heights in recent years.

Overdose fatality rates increased for all age groups in the last 15 years, with deaths of those aged 55-64 making up the greatest percentage increase (4.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 21.8 in 2015), the NCHS reported. In Georgia, they killed about 1,000 people a year between 2006 and 2014, according to a recent analysis.

  • Salvatore Jensen