Another deadly drug comes to NH
By PAT GROSSMITH
New Hampshire Union Leader
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CONCORD — A dangerous new drug — U-47700 — has made its debut in the state, killing one person already.
On Wednesday, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it was temporarily listing U-47700, a synthetic opioid, as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act because it is so deadly.
U-47700 comes in the midst of an ongoing deadly opioid crisis in the Granite State.
As of last Tuesday, 241 people have died in New Hampshire of drug overdoses, with the vast majority of those involving fentanyl, according to the New Hampshire Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
U-47700 is an opioid analgesic drug developed by a team at Upjohn in the 1970s. It was supposed to replace addictive painkillers, but never entered the marketplace.
The DEA said there were at least 15 confirmed fatalities associated with U-47700 in 2015-16: 10 in North Carolina, two in Texas and one each in New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin. The drug is sold on the illicit market in bags, some of which are marked with stamped logos, imitating the sale of heroin.
State Chief Medical Examiner Thomas Andrew said the drug is a fentanyl analogue (a synthetic drug) with high potency and is as dangerous as other such synthetics.
“Many analogues are developed in legitimate labs, but never brought to market because of one issue or another,” Thomas said. “This is the case with this fentanyl analogue, but clandestine (illegal) labs can still synthesize it for distribution and sale to substance abusers.”
The illegally produced U-47700 is six to eight times more potent than morphine, but not as potent as pharmaceutical fentanyl, according to Andrew.
Agent Timothy Desmond, DEA spokesman for New England, said U-47700 is making its way to the Mexican cartels via China and Asia.
The danger continues to grow, Desmond said, because there is no quality control.
“We have had kilos where analysis found portions of it mostly fentanyl and yet another part was more heroin and fentanyl,” he said. “You don’t know what you are getting and dealers don’t know what they’re giving you. That’s why this is so dangerous.”
One hit of fentanyl or a synthetic opioid can kill, he said.
In northern California last July, seven people died after taking pills they purchased on the street that they thought were OxyContin. Unknown to the buyers, drug dealers had purchased machines to make pills that looked like the painkiller. The mix turned out to be pure fentanyl, Desmond said.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is projecting that 480 people will die in New Hampshire this year from drug overdoses, 41 more than in 2015. In the past five years, drug deaths have more than doubled, from 201 in 2011 to 439 last year.
Through Tuesday, 73 people have died in Manchester alone from drug overdoses. Last year, through Sept. 22, 65 deaths in Manchester were attributed to drug overdoses, so it appears the number of people dying in the state’s largest city continues to grow in the never-ending drug epidemic. In 2015, emergency workers were called for 616 drug overdoses; 96 people died.
This year, through the end of August, emergency workers responded to 536 calls for suspected overdoses; 370 patients were treated with Naloxone. One in seven died.
Last weekend, Fire Chief Dan Goonan, who is an EMT, performed CPR on three people who overdosed. He said he carries his medical kit with him wherever he goes.
The Safe Station program, which began on May 4 and designates firehouses as safe environments for people seeking help and looking for treatment, has resulted in 421 people being helped as of Aug. 26. Of those, 211 were from Manchester while the others were from other cities and towns across the state, with nine from Maine and Massachusetts as well.
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PAUL LUNDWALL said Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 5:45 pm
Thank you Mr Obama.
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