Crime

Experts Warn About Deadly Drug Sold Online

| by Sheena Vasani

Authorities are warning the public about an affordable but deadly drug anybody -- including children -- can purchase online.

The synthetic opioid drug, known as U-47700 or U-4, but nicknamed pink and pinky, is so powerful just one touch can cause an overdose, KPNX reports.

But many overlook these risks, likely because the drug is nearly eight times stronger than prescription painkiller morphine.

Consequently, supply is on the rise.

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"As addicts are seeking a better high, the market is being flooded to meet that new demand,” said Erica Curry, a Phoenix district spokesperson for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

To meet that increasing demand, KPNX claims some online stores are offering the drug for one-fourth of its usual price. It often sells for $40 per gram.

The drug's affordability and accessibility has already claimed the lives of young people.

In September 2016, two 13-year-olds in Park City, Utah -- Ryan Ainsworth and Grant Seaver -- died because of U-47700, reports New York Daily News. 

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Reports indicate teenagers in the town ordered it online from China and gave it to others. After ingesting the drug, the two boys died from acute intoxication.

Even the later singer Prince reportedly overdosed and died from a mixture of both U-47700 and prescription painkiller fentanyl.

The Utah boys are just two of the at least 50-80 people who died from the drug in 2016, which was created in the 1970s. 

In November 2016, the DEA added the drug to Schedule 1, criminalizing the possession and sale of the drug, reports Rolling Stone. It's only a temporary move while the agency decides whether to make the classification permanent.

Still, some argue making it illegal in itself can only do so much.

Debbie Moak, director of the Arizona Governor's Office of Youth, Faith and Family, says drug users will just find another drug.

"They will change the [way it’s made] and something else will be on the market tomorrow,” said Moak. “If we follow that strategy we're always going to be behind."

Instead, she advocates for an approach that emphasizes prevention.

"I'm the mother of a son in long-term [recovery] so I have seen this first-hand for 17 years," Moak said. "We have to start much earlier."

Sources: KPNX, New York Daily News, Rolling Stone / Photo credit: KPNX

 

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