These Frankenstein Opioids Can Out-Kill Fentanyl
In June of ‘22, the DEA Washington DC Division Public Information Office issued an official Public Alert about Isotonitazene aka nitazene (or “ISO”), just one of many “new” Frankenstein opioids to make its way into addicts’ bloodstreams. The Alert, entitled “New, Dangerous Synthetic Opioid in D.C., Emerging in Tri-State Area”, mentioned that this particular compound had been identified in the Midwest drug flow back in 2019. It also mentioned that the dangerous synthetic had since made its way to the South and then to the Eastern Seaboard.
While the report didn’t mention how many overdose deaths this Frankenstein opioid had already caused, it did say that Iso can and was killing people. And the drug was doing so mixed into common street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl, as well as pressed into fake pharmaceuticals like Dilaudid “M-8”s and Oxy “M30”s.
Perhaps the most concerning thing about the Alert though was that the DEA was concerned enough with this deadly new menace to invite every DC news organization into its lab for the story.
The Frankenstein Opioids Story
NewsNation’s Mitch Carr got with McGill University’s Dr. Joe Schwarcz for the Frankenstein opioids’ creation story and boy, has it been one long, strange trip. Nitazene and its related analgesics, of which there are now at least a half dozen, were developed back in the late ‘50s by a team of Swiss researchers working for CIBA (now Novartis). The goal was to provide a safer alternative to morphine. When the chemists discovered one of their concoctions was 1000-1500 times stronger than morphine yet could cause immediate respiratory failure in humans, the research was shelved.
The Lost Years
Interest in Frankenstein opioids never really went away though. In the ‘70s, a couple American chemists tried to revive etonitazine (one of the analogs many faces) only to find out its potency diminished 100 fold when used on humans, while its risks remained alarmingly high. A 2011 South Korean investigation apparently didn’t discover any different.
A slew of back alley chemists, however, weren’t dissuaded by the findings. They weren’t discouraged either. During the ‘90s a chemist at Morton Thiokol (now Thiokol Chemical Coporation) even apparently developed a batch for his own use; while in Moscow some brainiacs started marketing a strain called “Chinese Dwarf.” Word is the Russian analog worked great as a cigarette lace.
Baby Bro Iso and Other Frankenstein Opioids
It wasn’t until Chinese chemists started synthesizing synthetics to order though that Frankenstein opioids really took off. Now, you don’t have just etonitazene and clonitazene (the originals), or baby bro Iso (the current favorite). No, you’ve also got butonitazene, metonitazene and protonitazene. Bear in mind though, that you can also get dead. Real dead.
Oh, naloxone might save you. If, that is, someone gets to you in time. And if said someone has at least three or four doses on tap. Otherwise, it’s a wrap.
Yes, these Frankenstein opioids are that strong.
So strong, in fact, that the Philadelphia Department of Public Health issued its own Alert after Frankenstein opioids turned up in four samples of three different brands of street dope. Here’s what they wrote:
“In December 2022, N-desethyl isotonitazene was the first nitazene analog to be detected in the Philadelphia drug supply among four unique samples suspected to be ‘dope’ with the following stamps: ‘hearse’, ‘atco’, and ‘show and tell’”.
“There are indications, however”, added Philly’s DPH, that the Frankenstein opioids “were present in the drug supply as early as October 2022.”
Considering how much dope is sold on the streets of Philadelphia, an added two months can bring about all sorts of grief.
Like they undoubtedly did in Knox County, Tennessee. The CDC was quick to issue a Field Report after it got wind of the high prevalence of nitazene-analog overdose deaths in that Volunteer State county. That report, however, doesn’t conclude whether the increase most likely appeared because Knox County’s Regional Forensic Center sends its blood samples to the DEA for secondary laboratory testing. Seems traditional laboratory panels do not always capture nitazenes. That means “nitazene-involved deaths that occur in other counties of Tennessee are likely to be undercounted.”
Even at an undercount though, the state saw a four-fold increase in Frankenstein opioid overdose deaths from 2020 to 2021. The CDC also found that less than one-in-four of those victims were administered naloxone.
Florida saw its nitazene-related cases rise from 13 in 2020 to 171 in 2021, at least 15 of them fatal. There too the estimates were considered to be on the low side, but the Attorney General used the increase to file an emergency rule to add eight deadly Frankenstein opioids to the state’s Schedule I list of controlled substances.
“Nitazene compounds are synthetic opioids that currently have no accepted medical use in the United States or anywhere in the world,” read the AG’s press release, last April and again on February 23. The latest comes in support of State Senator Jason Brodeur’s sponsoring of legislation SB 736.
Step Away from the Frankenstein Opioids
Healing Properties alerted our world about the Xylazine synthetic back in July of 2021; in May of 2022 we spread the alarm about Tranq. So we were far from surprised to need to call everyone’s attention to yet another deadly synthetic. What seems to be different from these Frankenstein opioids though is that corrupt chemists need only to make the most minor adjustment before they’ve got an entirely new compound. Consequently, they’re never more than a tweak away from a wholly “new” drug. Wiki says that “only etonitazene and clonitazene are explicitly listed under UN conventions and so are controlled throughout the world. The rest would only be illegal in countries such as the US, Australia and New Zealand that have laws equivalent to the Federal Analog Act.”
In other words, it’s open season on addicts around the whole wild world.
Healing Properties thanks NewsNation Morning in America Co-Host Mitch Carr and McGill Office for Science and Society Director Dr. Joe Schwarcz for the enlightening spur. We also thank the DEA, the CDC, the Tennessee Department of Health, the Knox County Regional Forensic Center and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health for their above and beyond efforts to keep us all safe. And we’d like to offer a very special extra Thank You to the great good folks at Wikipedia for keeping us so keenly informed.
If you run up against any of these Frankenstein opioids, please, by all means, turn and run the other way. And if you’re interested in getting off that track completely, then please give us a ring. We’ve been helping men successfully change trajectories since 2002 (really); we’d be honored to help you too (double really).