Dangerous synthetic opioid makes its way to Arizona

Updated: Jan. 11, 2017 at 9:08 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A synthetic opioid called "pink" has been linked to three over deaths in Arizona.

This drug, formally known as U-47700, has been associated with at least 46 deaths across the country, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The three deaths that happened in the Phoenix area are the first deaths related to this drug in the state, according to the DEA.

Lt. Chris Wildblood with the Tucson Police Department's Counter Narcotics Alliance said this drug adds to the already existing battle against synthetic opioids.

"One of the biggest threats we face in the drug community, ever," Wildblood said.

The drug is named after its pinkish color and is used as powder or pressed into a pill. The drug can be bought online.

Doctor Mazda Shirazi, medical director of Arizona Poison And Drug Information Center says the effects are similar to those of heroin, fentanyl or morphine.

Dr. Shirazi said the drug kicks in fast and can quickly become deadly.

"Their heart rate goes down, their blood pressure goes down. And if there is no intervention, then people will stop breathing. If they stop breathing for a long enough time or if there are alcohol or drugs on board, they pretty much go into deep sleep and die," Shirazi said.

He says the Arizona Poison And Drug Information Center has not received any calls about pink. He says however, that doesn't necessarily
mean it's not already here in Tucson.

"Remember, the people who have the culture of using it are not in the habit of calling the poison center about it," Shirazi said.

The DEA placed "pink" into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in November of 2016.

Law enforcement agencies report seizures of the drug in powder form as well as counterfeit tablets that mimic pharmaceutical opioids, according to a DEA news release.

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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