Study: Synthetic opioid nitazenes appear more potent than fentanyl, linked to overdose deaths
Health officials say a new group of drugs more powerful than fentanyl is being linked to overdose deaths.
Nitazenes are a synthetic opioid, similar to fentanyl but contain a different chemical structure.
"This is something that just a year and a half to two years ago was not in the drug supply at all," says Dr. Alexandra Amaducci, an emergency medicine and medical toxicologist.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl and related substances have contributed to a dramatic rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States. It is believed to be 50 times stronger than heroin.
Researchers in a new study published this week concluded that synthetic opioids appear to be even more potent. The study suggests they may be associated with an increased rate of cardiac arrest when people overdose.
Dr. Amaducci says people may think they are taking one drug when using nitazenes, but are actually consuming multiple substances.
She says the public needs to be aware of these drugs.
"It's also important for our providers. Our police. Our EMS. Our firefighters. Our emergency department physicians that these patients may require a higher level of care and more doses of naloxone or Narcan," says Dr. Amaducci.