There’s a new player on the drug scene named Fentanyl. This synthetic pharmaceutical painkiller and it is similar to morphine and heroin, only stronger. The drug is typically used to treat the extreme breakthrough pain suffered by some late-stage cancer patients. The drug is available in a variety of highly potent and illegal, non-pharmaceutical forms. The only difference between this narcotic and other opiate painkillers is that it can be 50 to 10,000 times more potent.
Pharmaceutical forms of this drug include an injectable liquid, transdermal lozenges, tablets and transdermal patches. The illicit forms include a white powder called China White, a yellow powder called White Persian, and a light brown powder called synthetic heroin. Other names for synthetic heroin like Drop Dead, Flatline and Lethal Injection reflect the fact that this drug is associated with overdosing and death.
Synthetic heroin can be laced with organic heroin, cocaine, Xanax or morphine. The transdermal patches can be smoked or swallowed or used to create a liquid form of the drug. Sometimes this narcotic is sold in thin cardboard strips that are saturated with a liquid form of synthetic heroin.
How Potent Is Fentanyl?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, this highly addictive synthetic opiate can be 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. The drug was originally synthesized by Janssen Pharmaceuticals in 1959. In the 1980s, a new synthetic form was created. Animal testing conducted by Janssen showed that the new synthetic opiate could be 470 to 600 times more powerful than morphine. Further testing indicated that some of the drug’s analogue forms could be 10,000 more potent.
How Dangerous Is It?
Fentanyl-related deaths have been on the rise over the past few years. Many cities and states across the board have seen dramatic jumps in deaths caused by fentanyl:
- In Ohio, from 2013 to 2014, fentanyl deaths jumped from 92 to 514. (an almost 500 percent in just one year)
- In 2014, between the months of March and April, Philadelphia stated that 28 people died after using heroin laced with fentanyl.
- In March of 2016, Florida authorities attributed nine deaths to fake pills laced with synthetic heroin.
- In 2014, Baltimore City had 72 fentanyl-related deaths. (one-quarter of their overall overdose deaths)
- In January of 2016, New Orleans stated that 14 people overdosed on fentanyl and died.
Drug distributors online and off have been selling Xanax that’s been secretly laced with fentanyl. On Alpha Bay, an online darknet market on the Tor network, shoppers can purchase pharmaceutical grade fentanyl that’s dressed to kill in colorful candy wrappers. Customers can also purchase nasal spray, gel tabs and Pez candies that have been treated with synthetic heroin.
The Bottom Line
It’s all about the money. Although drug dealers don’t want dead customers, they’re not overly concerned about an occasional overdose here or there. Because synthetic heroin is so much stronger and cheaper than old school heroin, financially savvy drug dealers are increasing their profit margins considerably by lacing old school heroin with fentanyl and marketing it as organic. You never know exactly what you’re getting, and there is no such thing as a “safe” drug.