D.C. Overdoses Linked to New Opioids More Dangerous Than Fentanyl

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As Washington D.C. struggles with an ongoing flood of fatal overdoses, forensic analysts in the District have identified a new and highly potent family of synthetic opioids called protonitazene and isotonitazene, both of which are estimated to be at least several times more powerful than fentanyl, reports the Washington Post. As yet, there is no indication that the new drugs, known as “nitazenes,” are widespread, and fentanyl remains the primary threat to opioid users in D.C., but their discovery has raised alarms because the drugs could be less vulnerable to some of the primary tools used to prevent overdoses, such as fentanyl testing strips and the overdose antidote Narcan. The nitazene substances have been identified in the Midwest, South and Southwest, as well as on the Eastern Seaboard. The District saw an estimated 498 fatal overdoses over 12 months during the coronavirus pandemic, larger than the number of drug deaths in 13 states.

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