GBI warns public of toxic synthetic drugs linked to 19 deaths this year

(File - CBSN)

DECATUR, Ga. – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announces a public warning on two new drugs linked to 19 deaths so far this year.

A GBI press release says the drugs “U-47700” and “Furanyl Fentanyl” are synthetic opioids used in the same manner as heroin. In the last 4 months alone, the drugs have been linked to 17 deaths — equal to the amount of deaths for all of 2016.

A GBI spokeswoman says this suggests the drugs are becoming more actively available and more dangerous.

“What’s so dangerous about Furanyl Fentanyl is that an investigation shows sellers are pressing them into pill form and selling them like Oxycodone,” says Public Affairs Director Nelly Miles. “So people are buying these drugs thinking they’re one thing and what they’re getting is something much more potent and much more lethal.”

“U-47700” is known by the street name “Pink” and “Furanyl Fentanyl” is at times just called “Fentanyl”, although Miles says it is not the same as the prescription drug.

“It’s similar to Fentanyl, a cousin, that’s the closest way I can describe it,” says Miles. “It’s so many times more potent.”

She says neither drug has yet been studied to determine the level of affect on the human body, but it is clear both are lethal at very low doses. The danger and complexity of the opioids led to the GBI issuing a statewide officer safety alert.  Law enforcement has been warned to use extreme caution and utilize personal protective equipment when handling or packaging any synthetic opioid.

The notice also tells officers to be careful of the many forms the drugs can take. They can be distributed in either powder or tablets, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

U-47700 or Furanyl Fentanyl may cause symptoms such as shallow breathing, pinpoint pupils, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, lethargy, cold or clammy skin, loss of consciousness, and/or heart failure. The notice to officers says should they encounter a person suffering a possible overdose, they need multiple doses of Naloxone, an emergency drug inhibitor, immediately.

One Metro-Atlanta law enforcement agency recently seized approximately 8 kilograms of the Furanyl Fentanyl and U-47700 mixture. A field test of the drugs was initially negative before GBI Crime Lab testing identified the substance.

Due to the diligence of the Georgia General Assembly, legislation was introduced this year to ban both U-47700 and Furanyl Fentanyl.  The Governor signed this law and it went into effect on April 17 with his signature.


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