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A new synthetic opioid 40 times more potent than “zombie drug” fentanyl is flooding US cities – and has now arrived in the UK.
“Frankenstein opioids are even more lethal than the drugs already responsible for so many overdose deaths,” Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost warned.
“Law enforcement and the public need to pay attention to these emerging hazards.”
The drug, nitazene compound, is from a group of chemicals known as benzimidazole-opioids.
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Developed as a painkiller in the 1950s, it has no legitimate medical use today but is known to be manufactured in underground labs in the US.
Experts says that even one dose of the drug could potentially be fatal.
In the UK, the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs reported that the “Frankenstein” pills had been found in police raids on drug dealers.
Nitazenes are often found in combination with other drugs, primarily fentanyl and its derivatives but also tramadol, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and others.
Florida's Attorney General, Ashley Moody, has proposed a law to add nitazines to the list of Schedule I controlled substances.
“Last year, I signed an emergency rule temporarily adding these deadly nitazene compounds to the Schedule I controlled substance list,” she said.
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Ms Moody has repeatedly stressed the lethality of this new drug, saying that "one pill will kill".
Nitazines have been reported in drug seizures across the US. Virginia state Attorney General Jason Miyares has confirmed that they have been found in his state.
“It's no secret that the opioid epidemic has destroyed communities nationwide – including many Virginia localities. 'Frankenstein' opioids, which are even more powerful than the incredibly lethal and potent fentanyl, are the newest variation and are guaranteed to have a devastating effect on Virginians if we do not take swift and decisive action,” he said.
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Fentanyl, along with animal tranquilliser xylazine — known as “tranq” – has filled many US urban areas into “zombie” neighbourhoods full of shambling addicts.
Mr Miyares is one of a group of 21 attorneys-general who have asked US President Joe Biden to classify drug cartels as foreign terrorist organisations.
The explosion in popularity of Fentanyl and similar drugs has ravaged US cities, and triggered a dramatic drop in the average American’s life expectancy since 2019.
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Up to 100 times more potent than morphine, Fentanyl is commonly used for pain relief in hospitals.
But as little as two milligrams of the drug – the equivalent of five grains of salt – can be enough to cause death.
Dr Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said last month: “Substance use is more dangerous than it has ever been, as fentanyl has continued to permeate the illicit drug supply, increasing the risk for overdoses among both people with substance use disorders as well as those who use drugs occasionally”.
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- United States
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