OCONEE CO., SC (WSPA) – A new synthetic opioid has been identified as the cause of three Oconee County deaths in February of this year.

According to the Oconee County Coroner’s Office, three people who died in the span of just three days in February each had a drug called Protonitazene in their system.

The deaths included a 24-year-old Westminster woman who died in her home and two men, ages 65 and 45, who were found dead outside a home near West Union.

All of the deaths happened between February 12 and February 14.

The coroner said toxicology testing confirmed the presence of Protonitazene, a new synthetic opioid with no medically accepted use. Other drugs were also found during testing, according to the coroner.

“I have been informed that Protonitazene is believed to have potency similar to or greater than Fentanyl,” said Coroner Karl Addis. “As such, Protonitazene has the potential to cause rapid sedation, respiratory depression, and death.”

Addis said Protonitazene may be distributed by itself or with heroin and/or fentanyl in tablets or powders.