ST. GEORGE — Officials are warning Utahns about the synthetic research drug U-47700 – an “extremely dangerous drug” appearing in Utah. The drug is commonly known as “pink” or “pinky.”
At least two fatal overdoses in Utah – Salt Lake County and Iron County – have already been attributed to U-47700, according to an alert issued jointly by the Park City Police Department and Park City School District Tuesday.
Park City police are investigating the deaths of two 13-year-old boys who were best friends. Grant Seaver passed away Sunday, and Ryan Ainsworth passed away overnight Monday — each at their respective homes, according to Molly Miller, spokesperson for the Park City School District.
Police and school officials held a press conference Tuesday to discuss both the deaths of the 8th grade boys and to warn people to avoid the synthetic opioid – warning parents, especially, to make sure children do not come into contact with “pinky.”
Officials said the cause of death of the two boys is currently unknown as it has not yet been verified.
Notwithstanding, toxicology results from the medical examiner could take up to eight weeks and officials said they don’t want to take any chances; they want parents to be alert and aware of how to look for the drug and what it is.
“Certainly our goal is to stop this from happening to anyone else’s children,” Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter said Tuesday, adding that the Police Department had received anonymous tips about the drug and investigators found recent social media posts referencing the drug.
“It’s easy for these kids to obtain,” Carpenter said.
The synthetic opioid is growing in popularity with recreational drug users throughout the United States and is readily available for purchase on the internet – primarily from Chinese suppliers, according to the Utah Statewide Information & Analysis Center, a division of the state Department of Public Safety.
Because this drug is so new, it is not yet illegal to purchase, officials said.
Nearly eight times more potent than morphine, U-47700 comes in various forms and can be injected, snorted or taken orally, according to The Associated Press. The new synthetic drug can be purchased online and is connected to at least 50 deaths nationwide.
Deaths have also been reported in Europe, and U-47700 is now illegal in both Sweden and Finland. However, it remains unregulated elsewhere and is easily found online.
“While these are the first confirmed reports of U-47700 in Utah, it is likely the presence of the drug will continue to rise within the state,” according to the alert issued Tuesday.
One of the challenges posed by this drug is that it is not currently scheduled as a controlled substance in the United States.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice issued a notice of intent Sept. 7 for the temporary placement of U-47700 into schedule I controlled substances. When the DEA’s motion takes effect in October, U-47700 will be classified among other addictive drugs like heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
“At this point, it is known that the substance is extremely toxic, even in small doses,” Tuesday’s alert said of U-47700. “If you believe you have encountered the drug, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately and do not touch the substance with bare hands.”
Officials provided the following recommendations for parents:
What parents can do:
- Talk with your child about the extreme danger involved with ingesting this drug in any dosage and in any form
- Search your child’s belongings
- Request a locker search at school
- If you think your child may be in possession of U-47700, call local law enforcement immediately
What parents should look for:
- White powder (can look like baby powder)
- Can also come in liquid form; watch for dropper bottles and (sometimes empty) nasal inhalers
- Unmarked “stealth” delivery boxes – in some cases, these may have hand-written labels
- Boxes, vials or plastic baggies labeled “Not for Human Consumption” or “For Research Purposes Only”
- Side effects reported from individuals who have used the substance include: analgesia (inability to feel pain), sedation, euphoria, constipation, itching and respiratory depression (occurs when ventilation is inadequate)
Where parents should look:
- Search belongings including backpacks, purses and containers
- It has been located in writing pen tubes, gum containers and other items of the like
- Pay attention to any packages being shipped to your house, especially anything shipped from Asian countries
- Search your child’s belongings. Because it is not yet an illegal substance, your child may very well have it in his/her possession without thinking they are doing something dangerous
- Search web browser history; purchases may be made from sites including but not limited to: MrChemistry.com, Best-Feel.com, BestRCS.com, Chinglabs.com, TopChems4me.com and Buy-RCS.com
- Schedules of Controlled Substances: Temporary Placement of U-47700 Into Schedule I
- For questions or additional information, email: Captain Phil Kirk, Park City Police Department: firstname.lastname@example.org or Statewide Information & Analysis Center: SIAC@utah.gov
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