At Sedgwick, we are committed to steering people away from opioid addiction and finding solutions to returning them back to healthy, productive lives. However, the lure of such drugs can begin even before entering the workforce and experiencing an unfortunate injury leading to the prescription of an opioid. This was exhibited last week in the following critical update from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Please read this important information; I feel strongly that, as part of our commitment to caring counts, we must alert the industry and the general public of this dangerous substance and do all we can to keep it out of the hands of the next generation entering the workforce.
The DEA took swift action November 10 by temporarily classifying the designer drug “pink” or “pinky” a Schedule I drug; this order went into effect on November 14. This means it is now in the same class as heroin and LSD. Schedule I drugs fall under the Controlled Substances Act for drugs with no medical use. The importance of this move by the DEA is that it is now illegal to sell this drug on the internet in the U.S. Many states had passed legislation to make the drug illegal for purchase, and the DEA move is helpful in limiting its availability online. The agency will make a decision next year if the drug will permanently remain on the Schedule I list.
Pink is a synthetic opioid which has been widely available online at very inexpensive rates to purchase; although now illegal, as of this blogging, I see it can still be bought online at a cost of $28 for 60 tablets. This drug is also known as U-47700. It is 700 times more potent than heroin.
Opioid addiction can start early
So far, pink/U-47700 has been the suspected cause of death for 46 people, primarily in New York and North Carolina – some of them young teenagers who thought it would be fun to get high.
Be aware: law enforcement agencies have confiscated versions of the drug in powder form and tablets that mimic pharmaceutical opioids. Pink/U-47700 got its name from the pink-purple hue derived through its processing, but has also been found in other forms, sometimes mixed with other drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. For example, Ohio law enforcement confiscated 500 blue pills earlier this year that initially appeared to be short-acting oxycodone, but tested officially as U-47700. (1)
Synthetic drugs are very commonplace and widely available on the internet for purchase as long as a person has access to a credit card. They are manufactured in other countries and shipped to the U.S. It is very easy for companies who manufacture these drugs to tweak them just enough and slightly change the name to continue to sell them on the internet.
We need to be very aware of what our children and teens are ordering online.
Teresa Bartlett, MD
SVP, medical quality, Sedgwick