Naloxone, known as the overdose antidote, is a drug that can reverse the effects of…
‘Pink’ Drug Blamed for Deaths Nationwide, Easily Purchased Online
First, there was fentanyl. Then, carfentanil began to make a name for itself on autopsy reports across America.
Now, meet “pink.” The newest addition to the family of monstrously potent synthetic opioids, known by chemists as U-47700, is being blamed for an increasing number of overdose deaths in the U.S. But what sets pink, or “pinky,” apart from its lethal kin?
It is legal in most states and anyone can order it on the Internet.
“It’s pretty easy,” Police Chief Wade Carpenter of Park City, Utah, told The Associated Press. “They go online, unfortunately, [with] $37 and a credit card and a cellphone and they can order it up, which is what makes it so scary.” That’s the scenario authorities believe was behind the deaths of two 13-year-old Park City boys who were found dead in their homes in September. Across the country, pink has been implicated in 80 deaths this year, according to NMS Labs in Pennsylvania, which conducts forensic toxicology tests. It was found in pills at Prince’s home after the music icon overdosed on fentanyl.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has filed to have U-47700 listed as a banned substance, just as it did when drugs like Spice and “bath salts” began cropping up. U-47700 is being marketed online as a “research chemical,” which makes it easily obtainable, according to the agency. Four states — Florida, Ohio, Wyoming and Georgia — have gotten a step ahead of the federal ban by outlawing the compound, and other states are looking to do the same. The DEA alert cited the dangers of pink, stating that it poses an imminent threat to public safety.
Pink isn’t, in fact, new. The compound was developed by Upjohn (the U in U-47700 stands for Upjohn) in the 1970s by scientists looking for a synthetic alternative to morphine. Although it was recently rediscovered as a recreational drug, U-47700 was never intended for human consumption.
Another Drug for Parents to Be Concerned About
Regardless of pink’s legal status, officials are warning people about the extreme danger involved with ingesting it in any amount. Parents are advised to pay attention to packages being shipped to their homes, especially from Asian countries, and to search their children’s belongings. The situation is that serious and that dangerous, authorities say.
Here’s what to look for, Park City police say:
- Pink can come in a white powder (can resemble baby powder), or liquid form.
- Users may leave dropper bottles and (sometimes empty) nasal inhalers lying around. Also look for vials or plastic baggies labeled “not for human consumption” or “for research purposes only.”
- Among places the drug has been hidden is inside pen tubes and gum containers.Parents are also advised to monitor their children’s online behavior and ask for a locker search at school.
If you think your child may be in possession of U-47700, call authorities immediately.
How Pink Kills
As with all opioids, pink works by slowing down the functioning of the body’s central nervous system. But with this compound and other synthetics, just a trace amount can stop breathing altogether. They are typically mixed in with batches of heroin without the buyer’s knowledge and have proven fatal to both experienced and novice heroin users alike.
Moreover, the synthetics are less responsive to the overdose reversal drug naloxone (Narcan), which is among the reasons overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids increased by 80% from 2013 to 2014. First responders report that it takes multiple doses of the antidote to restore breathing in people who have used synthetics, if it works at all.
Several options are available for treating opioid addiction, but fewer than half of addicts who need treatment are receiving help, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction, reach out for help without delay. People addicted to opioids can be effectively treated with medication and behavior therapy and research has shown that long-term recovery is more likely with professional treatment.