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NBC News has removed the photo and regrets the error. Two year-old boys in the ski town of Park City, Utah died within 48 hours of each other in September, likely overdosing on a powerful heroin substitute that had been delivered — legally — to their homes by the U. Ryan Ainsworth was found dead on his couch two days after his best friend Grant Seaver passed away. Pink, better known by chemists as U, is eight times stronger than heroin, and is part of a family of deadly synthetic opioids, all of them more powerful than heroin, that includes ifentanyl, carfentanil and furanyl fentanyl.
The powerful, ersatz opioids are part of a surge of synthetic drugs, including bath salts and mock-ups of ecstasy, being shipped into the U. So far, however, only four states have made Pink illegal. It can still be ordered legally on-line and delivered to your home. Melissa Davidson, mother of a Park City teen who had friends in common with the dead boys, showed NBC News on her home computer screen how easy it was to find the drug for sale with just a few keystrokes.
There are like s and s that you can buy this stuff online. According to the U. Centers for Disease Control, total opioid overdose deaths nearly quadrupled between and , rising from 8, to 28, The portion of those deaths caused by synthetic opioids, however, rose almost twice as fast, from just in to 5, in Because of the surge in opioid-related deaths, and the regular appearance of new synthetics on the market, there is a time lag in toxicology reports from coroners, and the possibility that some deaths are mistakenly linked to other, better known substances.
But Pink, a relative newcomer among the synthetics, has been implicated in 80 deaths across the country in just the past nine months, according to Pennsylvania-based NMS Labs, which conducts forensic toxicology tests. Though its own tally is only 15 deaths, an agency spokesperson said the was probably higher because of challenges and delays in reporting.
On Sept. In late September, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi ed an emergency order outlawing the drug after it was tied to eight deaths in recent months. Florida s Ohio, Wyoming and Georgia in outlawing the compound and other states are looking to do the same. In some states, law enforcement is just learning about a threat that is especially challenging because so many transactions are done by computer and through the mail. And the chemists who manufacture the drugs can invent new variants as fast as the states can outlaw them.
The DEA has been using so-called temporary bans more and more often to combat deer synthetic drugs have made their way into the U. The U ban allows them three years to research whether something should be permanently controlled or whether it should revert back to non-controlled status.
But experts say the most effective prevention may start in the home, at the computer and the mailbox. Jane, however, was worried about her friends at school. One bad decision can have permanent consequences. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security. IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. Olympics Politics U. Share this —.
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Pink: Stronger Than Heroin, but Legal In Most States