Scary New Synthetic Killing Addicts

It’s called acetyl fentanyl, a synthetic opiate said to be five times more powerful than heroin. And it’s been linked to a dozen deaths in Rhode Island. (At this writing, the total has increased to 14.)

According to the Providence Journal, this is a new drug on the streets, with ten deaths occurring between March 7th and April 11 of this year. "It has not been described elsewhere in the country, or Canada," said Dr. James McDonald, a Health Department physician.”

In June the Centers for Disease Control put out an advisory about the drug, issuing a recommendations for laboratory testing so that medical personnel and police would know what they were dealing with. At such a high potency, heroin users may be unaware of the danger of overdose until it is too late, and the deaths in Rhode Island were linked to IV drug use.

Fentanyl, the parent compound is marketed in the US as a patch for extreme, chronic pain conditions. acetyl fentanyl has no approved medical use and until now, no street use either.

The CDC advisory alerts healthcare professionals to be aware of the drug which has a rapid onset and can cause breathing failure. Their recommendation is to administer Narcan, a drug that counteracts the effects of opiates, as well as maintaining an adequate airway and breathing for the patient when respiration ceases. Because of acetyl fentanyl’s higher potency, more Narcan may have to be administered than with other opiates.

Fentanyl itself was once the cause of a rash of deaths. Called, “China White” for its color, fentanyl was used to make low quality heroin have a stronger effect. This may be the case with acetyl fentanyl as well, although police have not reported whether the deaths were from one drug alone or a mixture.

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