The Pink Drug, otherwise known as Pinky or U-47700, is a synthetic opioid estimated to be around 7.5 times more potent than morphine. In the last few years, reports of many fatalities have surfaced due to the increasing use of the pink drug in the United States, which is believed to be exported from clandestine labs in China.
U-47700 can be purchased on the black market in both powder and pill form, but usually appears as white or light pink, chalk-like powder. It is commonly sold in glassine bags labeled with logos imitating heroin, inside envelopes, and in knotted corners of plastic bags. The nickname “Pinky” is derived from its most common means of administration, which is snorting it intranasally using the pinky finger.
Even small doses of the pin drug can be toxic and potentially deadly. Labels on products may state “not for human consumption” or “for research purposes only” in an effort to circumvent legal detection. Deaths related to the pink drug in the United States join the increasing pervasiveness of overdose fatalities as a result of prescription and illegal opioids and other synthetic designer drugs.
Pink Drug Effects and Toxicity
Pink is commonly abused for its painkilling and euphoric and effects. The drug can be snorted, injected, or consumed orally. Users report effects that are equivalent to those of other opioids, which include the following:
- Analgesia and numbness
- Profound respiratory depression
- Dependence and addiction
- Rapid heart rate
- Coma and death
U-47700 Use and Health Risks
The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) reported at least 46 fatalities related to the use of U-47700 by December 2018. According to the agency, no cases of U-47700 abuse in the United States were reported prior to 2015.
People who abuse U-47700 do so for similar reasons as those who use heroin, prescription opioids, and other narcotics. Also, the use of this drug may occur unknowingly, as it may be found laced into other substances, including heroin and fentanyl. Some products have been sold in packaging that resembles that of heroin or other painkillers.
These illegal substances originate from overseas, and the purity and potency of any one product purchased on the Internet or black market are mostly unknown. Moreover, a potential user may believe that the product contains just one substance, but in reality, it could also include many other dangerous chemicals.
Like those who abuse any narcotics, those who take U-47700 are at high risk for substance use disorders, overdose, and death. Two 13-year old boys in Utah suffered a lethal overdose in September 2016 due to the use of U-47700 purchased off the Internet.
Because it is a depressant, U-47700 can users become sedated to the point of respiratory arrest. If the overdose does not immediately prove deadly and someone is available to call for emergency help, first responders will give the person naloxone, an effective opioid antidote, in an effort to save a life.
Pharmacology of the Pink Drug
U-47700 is a synthetic agonist that works on the opioid receptors in the brain. It was originally developed by researchers in the 1970’s at Upjohn Pharmaceuticals to treat pain associated with cancer, surgery, or injuries.
The pink drug has a similar chemical structure as morphine and other opioid receptor agonists. However, as noted, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), pink is 7-8 times more potent than morphine.
Legal Status of U-47700 in the U.S.
In November 2016, the DEA classified U-47700 as a Schedule I controlled substance due to its immediate risks to public safety and health. Drugs placed in this category are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no legitimate medical use.
Temporary emergency scheduling of dangerous drugs is one tool the DEA uses to help regulate new and potentially deadly street drugs. Temporary scheduling of this sort typically lasts at least two years, with a possible one-year extension if the DEA requires additional time to ascertain if the substance should permanently remain as a Schedule I drug.
Treatment For Opioid Addiction
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