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Acetyl fentanyl is a deadly new street drug

Street drug lab

There is a new street drug named acetyl fentanyl which is causing concerns reported Live Science on Aug. 20, 2014. Researchers say that emergency physicians may soon be confronted with larger numbers of patients who appear to have overdosed on heroin, but who have actually taken a relatively new and deadly designer drug which is called acetyl fentanyl.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acetyl fentanyl is a relative of a powerful prescription painkiller which is called fentanyl. Acetyl fentanyl is five times more potent than heroin as a painkiller. This illegal drug may be combined with heroin to make it even more potent and deadly. It may also be sold in pills which are disguised as oxycodone.

Drug researcher John Stogner, of the department of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, says that what is particularly frightening about this new street drug is that users may not be aware that they are ingesting it. There have been clusters of deaths associated with acetyl fentanyl overdoses in several states, including Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. It is anticipated that such overdose outbreaks will continue to occur.

Stogner says drug users who overdose on the spiked heroin or on pure acetyl fentanyl which is marketed as heroin appear as if they have been overdosed on heroin. These people appear lethargic and disoriented. They exhibit shallow breathing, a slow heart rate and low blood pressure. If a an overdose victim doesn't respond to a medicine called naloxone, which is the standard treatment for opioid overdose, physicians should consider that acetyl fentanyl might very well be the culprit.

The researchers have stated that the significant potential for overdose which is associated with acetyl fentanyl justifies the attention of medical research and policy reform reports the Annals of Emergency Medicine. It is particularly problematic that acetyl fentanyl is in a confused legal status. This drug is not scheduled under the Controlled Substance Act even though it is considered an analogue of fentanyl.

Acetyl fentanyl therefore presently exists in a legal gray area wherein it is considered illicit if it is intended for human consumption. However, this dangerous drug actually evades regulation if packaged with the qualifier that it is “not for human consumption.” The researchers are right in suggesting that this exemption should clearly be lifted.

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