A highly potent, new synthetic drug has been added to the list of Schedule I drugs, after cases of deaths related from an overdose from using it were reported from different states in the U.S. This is an opioid analgesic known as U-47700. Developed in the 1970s by the pharmaceutical firm, The Upjohn Company, U-4 has a street name of “Pink” or “Pinkie.
This chemical substance was all over the headlines in the past months for the series of deaths from across the country, including the states of Utah, Mississippi and Michigan. As a result, around twelve states have requested for a ban of the drug.
In September last year, two 13-year old boys from the town of Park City, Utah, died after taking the drug. According to Wade Carpenter, Park City Police Chief, the cause of death of the two teenagers was acute intoxication of the U-47700 drug. This was derived from the results gathered from the medical examiner of the Utah Office.
The parents of the victims were clueless at first because not much evidence surfaced. But further down on the investigation, authorities were able access the social media accounts of the teens and discovered about the drug. It was later found out that it came from one of classmates of the teenagers who ordered it online.
It is said that some teenagers in the community ordered the drug from China and was shipped to the U.S. After a group of teenagers were questioned as part of the investigation, one teenager was charged with reckless endangerment and distribution of a controlled substance.
Created by Upjohn, the U-47700 was patented by Jacob Szmuszkivicz, a chemist, in1976. The drug was first tested on animals and it was concluded that the potency of the opioid substance was higher than morphine, albeit, it is less addictive. Originally created to be used to alleviate pain in cancer patients, injury and cancer, the drug was never tested on human beings. While it was not made available to the public, the research continued and medical journals about it were published. These journals became the basis of some drug laboratories in China and other locations for making the recreational drug with the streetname, “Pink”. This was because the journals included information on how to make the drug.
This research chemical has become a popular recreational drug because it can easily be purchased online and is relatively cheap, selling for only $30 a gram. Manufacturers are also able to get away with it because they have learned to adjust the composition of the drug that it does not match the scheduled substance.
Reported to be seven-and-a-half times more fatal than morphine, this opioid can cause respiratory distress and later, death. One person who admitted having tried U4 said that the drug gives a feeling of relaxation and laziness. But experts also warned that the potency of the substance is based on the exact measurements stated in the patent and that other manufacturers do not follow the dosage, thus, users end up coming up with a more fatal substance.
Although it is now in the Schedule I Drugs List, it is too early to consider this new recreational drug as illegal. Meanwhile, U-47700 was also said to have been found, along with Fentanyl as one of the drugs in the estate of icon singer, Prince, who died from drug overdose.