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LONDON, Ohio— A dangerous, new group of synthetics opioids called “nitazenes” is spreading rapidly in the United States
The drug, dubbed “Frankestein opioids”, can be 1.5 to 40 times more potent than fentanyl. It is not approved for medical use anywhere in the world, but is currently manufactured in clandestine labs, according to a bulletin from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).
At BCI, forensic experts sound the alarm after monitoring a year-over-year increase in nitazenes. In the first quarter of 2022, BCI reported 143 cases of nitazene in Ohio, compared to 27 cases in the same quarter of 2021.
“It’s a spike, something new, frankly something troubling,” Yost told Fox News. “These things are produced on the black market and are really chemistry experiments in many ways.”
In some cases, nitazenes are found in combination with other drugs, mainly fentanyl and fentanyl pharmacophores, but also tramadol, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and PCP analogues.
“Frankenstein’s opioids are even more lethal than the drugs already responsible for so many overdose deaths,” Yost said in an April 20 statement. “Law enforcement and the public must pay attention to these emerging risks.”
In April, Ohio outlawed nitazenes, and in December the DEA issued a warning of intent to classify nitazenes as Schedule I drugs. However, experts warn that these efforts may not be enough to keep nitazenes out of harm’s way. streets.
“Because that’s what drug dealers are looking for, drugs that are very powerful but at the same time more difficult to identify,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.