New opioids ten times stronger than fentanyl now linked to overdose

Drug law enforcement officials are now warning of a new group of opioids, ten times more potent than fentanyl, that have been linked to a recent rise in overdoses.

“Results of laboratory tests indicate that the potency of some nitazene analogs [e.g., isotonitazene, protonitazene, and etonitazene] far exceeds that of fentanyl, while the potency of the analogue metonitazene is similar to that of fentanyl,” explained a team of researchers from the Tennessee Department of Health.

Drug-related deaths are on the rise. In their report released Friday, Jessica Korona-Bailey and her colleagues said that “four times as many overdoses involving nitazene were identified in Tennessee in 2021 than in 2020, and this number may be underestimated due to the low frequency of tests”.

Overall, Tennessee deaths known to be linked to synthetic opioids have risen from 10 in 2020 to 42 a year later, with the majority of those killed being young men (average age 40).

Tennessee’s Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) has identified fatal nitazene-related overdoses in 2021. Urgent warnings are being issued, as nitazines are so much more potent than fentanyl, treatment options for emergency are affected.

Naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of opioids sold under the brand name Narcan, among others, was effective in countering nitazene-related overdoses, according to the study.

However, multiple doses may be needed due to the potency of nitazenes, the researchers pointed out.

“Given their potency, raising awareness of nitazenes and implementing strategies to reduce harm through increased testing, monitoring and linking it to treatment for substance use disorders is of paramount importance. vitally important,” they wrote.

The use of nitazenes is spreading. Readers of Legal Insurrection will not be surprised to learn that these compounds are manufactured in China for distribution in that country.

The growing danger of nitazene-tainted opioids in the illicit drug supply is of course not unique to Tennessee.

In June, the Washington, DC-based branch of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency issued an alert about the same class of drugs spotted in that region.

“A drug that has never been approved for medical use, nitazenes originated in China and are mixed with other drugs,” the DEA explained in a statement.

One nitazene, isotonatazene (nicknamed ISO), was particularly prevalent in the DC region.

“First identified around 2019 in the Midwest, this dangerous drug has moved into southern states and more recently along the Eastern Seaboard,” the agency explained.

To that, anyone who uses opioids that aren’t on a doctor’s prescription from a reputable pharmacy has a death wish that China will be only too happy to grant.

As a reminder, the potential lethal dose of fentanyl is two milligrams.

Pascoe, 23, of Pittsburg, Calif., pleaded guilty on February 14, 2022 to the charge of distributing fentanyl. In his plea agreement, Pascoe admitted that on the night of June 16, 2020, a former high school classmate came to his house to buy oxycodone pills. He sold her thirteen M30 pills, which lab tests later showed contained deadly fentanyl. The next morning, the victim was found dead in his bed, and the bag containing the M30s Pascoe sold the victim was found in his bedroom. Pascoe agreed in his plea agreement that the victim ingested the M30s he sold her and consequently overdosed on fentanyl.

The government filed a sentencing memorandum claiming that while Pascoe did not intentionally cause his high school classmate’s death, his death was the product of Pascoe’s reckless disregard for his safety. Pascoe told the victim he would buy the oxycodone pills from a street source he called his “other link.” The government has pointed out that the trade in Oxycodone M30 tablets bought on the street is extremely dangerous. According to the DEA, counterfeit M30 pills routinely contain fentanyl, and four in ten of these pills contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl. A lethal dose can be tiny, as little as two milligrams. Pascoe essentially “played Russian roulette,” the government claimed, but it was the victim who suffered the fatal consequences of Pascoe’s reckless and grossly negligent driving.

Since nitazenes are ten times more potent, I would estimate the lethal dose at 0.2 milligrams. Consequently, the number of drug-related deaths will continue to rise as our border leaks and there is no cohesive plan to stem the flow of synthetic opioids from China.

According to the latest national data, drug overdoses in the United States hit an all-time high in 2021 – more than 108,000 lives lost. Three-quarters of those deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl or nitazenes.


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