How America Gets Its Deadliest New Drug
With our northern neighbors facing a major fentanyl epidemic, it looks like the US may soon see more of its even stronger cousin Carfentanil which has already claimed the life of music legend Prince.This article originally appeared on Fast Company
In the past few months, a string of overdoses across the U.S. has been linked to an opioid drug so potent that it’s not intended for human consumption.
Carfentanil is the world's most powerful commercial opioid, considered to be 100 times more potent than its relative fentanyl, the carefully controlled prescription painkiller linked to Prince's death, which itself is 50 times stronger than heroin.
Originally synthesized in the 1970s, carfentanil is marketed under the name Wildnil as a general anaesthetic for large animals like elephants, and was never intended for humans. But like any number of new synthetic drugs, it’s easily finding its way from clandestine labs and into the illicit drug supply through the mail. Sold openly on the web or through drug markets on the anonymous Tor network, the drug is being added to heroin and counterfeit pain medication by traffickers and often taken by users who don't know exactly what they're consuming.
"We’re seeing a lot of the activity take place over the internet through anonymous relationships between a consumer and the drug manufacturer or source of supply," says Russ Baer, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. The agency has warned communities across the country to be on alert for the drug, and has told first responders to wear protective gloves and masks, since the drug can be dangerous to someone who simply touches it.