MACON, Ga. -- At least two people have died and dozens more have been hospitalized in the last two days from pill overdoses in central Georgia.
Bibb County coroner Leon Jones has identified two people who died due to pill overdoses. He said Gregory Mitchell, age 52, of Macon died Tuesday morning at the Medical Center Navicent Health. His autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
Amirrah Gillens, age 36, died Sunday at the same hospital, Jones said. Her autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
There could be at least four deaths attributed to the pills, according to Chief Medical Officer for Navicent Health Christopher Hendry. He said the toxicology reports are not back yet so they are unable to make that determination.
A release from the Department of Public Health says they’ve aware of potentially lethal substance in street drugs throughout the region. Overdoses have been reported in Centerville, Perry, Macon, and Warner Robins, but the drugs may be sold in other parts of the state.
Patients reported purchasing yellow pills believed to be Percocet. The substance in the pills has not yet been identified, but it’s requiring massive amounts of Narcan to counteract the effects.
First responders told the department that patients are being placed on ventilators because they have stopped breathing and are unresponsive.
The DPH is working with the GBI and federal agencies on the investigation.
In the Atlanta metro area, there have been at lease one death and several overdoses attributed to a substance authorities are calling "gray death"
In Brookhaven, a woman overdosed on Feb. 10, after tests it was determined that she died from the "gray death" substance.
"We've seen heroin, we've seen heroin mixed with fentanyl, but where this is going is just something that really has everyone on high alert," said GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles.
"The gray material was found to contain a toxic cocktail of opiate drugs," the GBI said in a statement. "The ingredients vary, but often contain heroin, fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, and U-47700 mixed together in the same powder. The solid material has the appearance of gray concrete mixing powder, with texture variations from light/powdery to chunky/rock-like."
It's gray and has the look of concrete. According to reports, the drug is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, and includes an elephant tranquilizer called Carfentanil
Gray death is transdermal, which means it can be absorbed through the skin, nose and eyes. It's so potent that GBI lab safety gear had to be upgraded to handle the drug, according to Deneen Kilcrease.
"We took it a step further we now require a face mask, particle mask," Kilcrease said. "We also mandate a buddy system" so that one person is never handling the drug alone.
The "gray death" is an opioid that can kill in a single dose, according to authorities.