It’s addictive, it’s dangerous, and it’s deadly. Synthetic opioids continue to top state and national headlines and while many like Demerol, Oxycodone, and even OxyContin can be prescribed by a doctor, there’s one that’s proven to be far worse than anything else on the street.
The drug commonly known as U-4770 comes in various forms and can be injected, snorted or taken orally. The highly addictive drug has no street name and is usually purchased online for around $40 per gram. It’s responsible for an increasing number of overdoses and deaths in Georgia and around the country.
A quick Internet search yields dozens of websites on which you can purchase the substance to be shipped right to your door.
One of the pressing issues for law enforcement and the legal system so far has been the development of drugs advancing quicker than the legal code.
But here in Georgia, the legislature is looking for change. State Representative Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) dropped a bill he hopes to see pass this session. House Bill 30 seeks to essentially criminalize and classify this synethic opioid via the formal name “(RR) 3,4-dichloro-N-(2-(dimethylamino)cyclohexyl)-N-methylbenzamide (U-47700).”
The substance would be classified alongside other Schedule I drugs like heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and GHB. These drugs have no medical use and are considered highly addictive. It would then be illegal to possess, sell or distribute the compound in the State of Georgia.
In Georgia, Schedule I drug offenses are felonies and carry terms of two to thirty years in prison depending on the number of offenses.
The DEA places the substance in one of the four categories of the new fake drugs, along with synthetic marijuana (K2), stimulants (bath salts) and hallucinogens. The World Health Organization even published a Critical Review Report recently, which you can see here.
The United States blames heavily the operations China that have accelerated the production and sale of the synthetics drugs. Chemists in the country have been using old medical journals and patents to re-create the drug made back in the 1970’s as a pain reliever.
The Associated Press reported on the origination of the substance last July. The product was developed nearly fifty years ago but only recently became something considered for abuse.
The U in the name stands for Upjohn, a pharmaceutical manufacturer that developed the drug in the mid-1970s as scientists were looking for a synthetic alternative to morphine, said Barry Logan, chief of forensic toxicology at NMS Labs in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, which provides lab services for government and private clients.
“They were searching for a novel painkilling drug, the holy grail of analgesics that didn’t have the addictive or respiratory depression properties of opiates or heroin,” said Logan, who recently spoke about synthetic opioids at an international conference in Budapest.
The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee, though it is likely it will go to the House Health and Human Services Committee.