New Opioids Are Joining the Illicit Drug Supply, and They’re More Potent Than Fentanyl

In recent years, the opioid epidemic has been worsened by the advent of street fentanyl, an illicit version of a powerful prescription painkiller. But experts now warn that the threat posed by fentanyl may ultimately pale in comparison to the emergence of an even more dangerous type of synthetic opioid that’s now tainting the illegal drug supply: nitazenes.

That’s because a new investigation finds nitazenes are 1,000 times more potent than morphine, which makes them 10 times more power than fentanyl.

That means that nitazenes “are much more dangerous, because it takes a smaller amount of these drugs to have the same effect, and patients could overdose more easily,” explained study author Alexandra Amaducci, an emergency medicine and medical toxicology expert with Lehigh Valley Health Network-USF Morsani College of Medicine in Bethlehem, Pa.

Adding to the risk, Amaducci’s team further found that when a nitazene overdose occurs it’s very likely to be more severe — and more difficult to treat — than an overdose attributed to fentanyl

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