The following is a statement from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Facebook page :

About 15 people overdosed Wednesday in Rutherford County from an apparent counterfeit Percocet pill laced with a potent painkiller believed to be Fentanyl, a prescription medicine used on cancer patients, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sheriff Robert Arnold said a multi-agency investigation is ongoing.

“We are warning people about the dangers of the non-prescription drug use and urging people to stop using the illegal drugs sold on the street,” Sheriff Arnold said. “These drugs are extremely dangerous and potentially deadly.”

A Sheriff’s Office narcotics supervisor said Fentanyl will quickly depress the nervous system and respiratory system, causing distress, disorientation, coughing and cardiac arrest if absorbed, ingested or inhaled. The drug is so potent it can be quickly absorbed through the skin.

A Drug Enforcement Administration leader said Fentanyl is 40 to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine and even minimal exposure can be life threatening.

13439127_10154352525706204_8073024714924681121_nPhoto: This photograph of Percocet A333 from drugs.com resembles the counterfeit, non-prescription Percocet being sold illegally.

We reported on the Fentanyl problem in January of this year when Murfreesboro police worked with TBI in the largest heroin bust in state history. That heroin was also laced with Fentanyl.