DEA Bans Designer Drug 'Pink'

By McCarton Ackerman 11/14/16

Prior to the DEA's recent classification, the synthetic opioid also known as U-47700, was legal in most U.S. states.

DEA Bans Designer Drug 'Pink'

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has put a halt on the synthetic opioid called Pink, classifying it as a Schedule I substance after dozens of deaths related to the drug have been reported.

The Schedule I classification puts Pink in the same category as heroin and cannabis, drugs that are defined by the federal government as having a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical benefits. Reuters reported that Pink’s new status will go into effect on Nov. 14 and remain for two years. There is the option for a one-year extension if the DEA determines that more data is needed on the substance.

However, a ban on Pink won’t fully address the issue. As with many synthetic substances, chemists can easily alter some of the compounds so that the new drug can stay on the market for months before being recognized by authorities. This makes it particularly dangerous for users since they can’t be fully certain of what they’re consuming or its potency.

Authorities say that Pink, also known as U-47700, is commonly imported to the U.S. from China and is in the same family of powerful synthetic opioids including carfentanil and furanylfentanyl. It comes in pill form, a powder, and can even be purchased as a mist.

Pink is said to be eight times stronger than heroin, with the police chief in Park City, Utah, telling NBC News last month that “if you touch it, you could go into cardiac arrest.”

But until the recent move by the DEA, the drug had been floating on the market legally in most states. Only four states had banned the drug—Florida, Wyoming, Georgia and Ohio.

Data from Pennsylvania-based NMS Labs, which conducts forensic toxicology tests, has reported at least 80 deaths across the country from Pink since the beginning of the year.

The DEA reported 46 deaths from Pink between October 2015 and September 2016—with 31 occurring in New York and another 10 in North Carolina. The agency has suggested that the count is even higher due to the challenges and delays in reporting these deaths.

Several European countries have already taken action against Pink. Finland and Sweden have banned the drug.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.