U-47700 or “pink”is the name of the latest drug on the street. It is nearly ten times stronger than morphine or heroin and can be bought legally online in all but a few states.
- It has caused hundreds of deaths in the U.S. since the beginning of 2016.
A synthetic opioid, it was developed in the early 1970s by the pharmaceutical manufacturer Upjohn. U-47700, better known today as “Pink”, was intended to be a laboratory-made alternative to the potent pain reliever morphine. Wanting to create an analgesic that didn’t cause severe respiratory depression or addiction. Upjohn scientists patented a variety of compounds while searching for this “super analgesic”. In addition, academic articles regarding it and other related compounds were published that contained instructions for making the compounds.
Eventually, Eastern European and Chinese chemists discovered these “recipes” for making this drug by reading through old science journals and patent records. Today, Pink can be legally purchased (mostly from China) in various forms for about $40 to $100 per bottle.
As of September, 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration temporarily scheduled as a Schedule I drug. This classification means it poses a high potential for addiction and abuse. In addition, the drug is not currently accepted for medical treatment in the U.S.
- States that have made this drug illegal include Wyoming, Georgia, Florida and Ohio.
According to Dr. Paula Cook, University of Utah, Neuropsychiatric Institute in Addictive Medicine, pink causes instant pain relief, extreme relaxation and incredible euphoria.” It’s inexpensive, easy to access and highly addictive” Dr. Cook says. “Unfortunately, it also induces respiratory depression that causes users to stop breathing and potentially slip into a coma. When taken in excess, it will cause death”.
Due to its short term effects, the risk of users compulsively re-dosing before the initial dose has been metabolized by the body is extremely high. Addiction specialists suspect this may be causing many overdose deaths, especially in users already addiction to heroin.
An opioid analgesic, this drug forces release of massive amounts of dopamine (DA) in the brain. Directly associated with the reinforcement of addiction, dopamine triggers brain alterations leading to addiction and plays a critical role in the motivational drive to appropriate entities that provide pleasure and reward.
Since it is an opioid analgesic like heroin, naloxone (Narcan) may be used to counteract an overdose. Given as injections or nasal sprays, Narcan reverses respiratory distress in people overdosing on opioids by blocking action of endorphins and other pain-reducing chemicals produced naturally by the body. Researchers think endorphins operate on opioid receptors that Narcon effectively blocks during an overdose. However, it is not yet known if Narcon can help users overdosing on Pink and suffering a cardiac arrest.