NEW YORK, (WENY) -- The New York Department of Health sounded the alarm on Friday, June 21st that illicit drug samples from Syracuse and Schenectady has been found to contain medetomidine. The DOH described medetomidine as a high potency synthetic sedative used in veterinary medicine. 

“Medetomidine impacts the central nervous system and is extremely dangerous when combined with other substances, which is why we’re sharing this public health alert,”?said State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald.

The sample in Syracuse was collected on June 5th, and has already been linked to two non-fatal overdoses. The sample from Schenectady was found on May24th, and was found to also contain fentanyl and caffeine. The drugs were found by Drug Checking Program community partners ACR Health and Catholic Charities.

The department said that the community drug checking program is a vital tool in identifying potentially harmful substances in the unregulated drug supply. The program allows for the rapid identification of substances that previously wouldn't have been detected until a toxicology test was performed on someone who had already died.

"The State Health Department and our Drug Checking Program remain committed to preventing overdoses and ensuring the safety of New Yorkers.”

More information about the program can be found here.