In mid-September, two 13-year-old Utah boys died unexpectedly. Authorities are now investigating the connection between their deaths and a deadly designer drug called U-47700.
The drug, also referred to as “Pinky,” is nearly eight times more potent than morphine. Created in the 1970s for research purposes, this lethal opioid is experiencing a sudden and deadly surge in popularity. In recent times, the drug is predicted to have been a factor in at least 50 overdose-related deaths across the United States.
As the deaths in Utah have devastated one community, the suspected drug in question has surfaced in many others. The epidemic has grown rapidly, leading state legislature in Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, and Georgia to take action toward making the drug illegal.
On September 27, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued an emergency executive order declaring U-47700 to be illegal in the state, with a penalty of a third-degree felony charge if found in possession of the drug. The substance has been named a suspect in at least 8 recent deaths in the Panhandle and in Orange County, according to officials.
Available in pill form, powder form, and a nasal spray, the instant online availability of the drug is a pressing and immediate danger. The super-potent mixture ships from Asian countries, with a selling rate of $40 per gram. As the drug crossed over Texan borders, The Dallas Observer unearthed in its research an entire online community of those searching for and comparing experiences with the drug, which has been linked to respiratory depression, among other potentially fatal side effects.
Developed over forty years ago by a research team from the pharmaceutical manufacturer Upjohn (the “U” in U-47700), the drug was relatively unknown until recently. Chemists have discovered recipes for the substance in scientific journals from that time period, as noted by the Associated Press.
The Drug Enforcement Administration announced on September 7 that U-47700 would be listed as a schedule I drug under the United States Controlled Substances Act. On the DEA’s scale, schedule I drugs hold the highest potential of abuse; they also have no acceptable medical use. The scheduling will take effect in October.
The drug’s presence is known worldwide. It will be up for review by the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) at the annual meeting in Geneva in November, and has already been banned in several European countries.
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