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12.15.2016

New Synthetic Opioid “Pink” is Tied to Recent Fatalities

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences has issued a warning about a new synthetic opioid. The drug has been detected in the system of three Houston people who have died recently. It is called “Pink,” “Pinky” or even “U4.”

The drug is a white powder that can be pressed into a pill form. It isn’t packaged in any type of unusual manner. Houston authorities aren’t the first law enforcement officials to encounter Pink; police in Park City, Utah, became aware of it when they were investigating the overdose deaths of two teenagers earlier in 2016.

Fatal Intoxication when Mixed with Other Substances

The chief toxicologist at the Harris County Institute for Forensic Sciences, Teresa Gray, explained that Pink is in the same class of drugs as hydrocodone, heroin and morphine. She said that it produces a feeling of euphoria among users, but can cause the person who takes it to stop breathing if the dosage is high enough. Gray said that users mix the Pink with other substances that, in combination, can cause a fatal intoxication.

Originally Created by a Pharmaceutical Company

Unlike some other street drugs which were originally cooked up in a laboratory, Pink’s origins can be traced to a more legitimate source. It was originally called U47700 and was made by Upjohn, a pharmaceutical company that was attempting to develop a new pain reliever.

The medication was never approved for use on humans or sold to the public. The patent was registered, however, and the drug’s formula found its way onto the Internet. From there, it started being produced in laboratories set up overseas.

The drug is available for sale online, and has now reached American streets. Buyers may not be aware of what they are taking or they may be buying heroin, cocaine or other drugs that have been cut with Pink. It’s a common practice for dealers to add other ingredients to street drugs, and buyers are not aware of what they may be taking along with their drug of choice.

Pink Declared a Controlled Substance

After the news of the untimely deaths attributed to Pink in 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sought an emergency order in November to have Pink designated a Schedule 1 controlled substance, making it illegal to possess, manufacture or sell it. Drugs in this category have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse.

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