A drug readily available for purchase online has surfaced in North Texas and area experts said they're concerned about the dangers of its use.
The drug called U-47700 is a synthetic opioid that has been around for decades, but has recently become popular on websites and online forums.
"This seems to be a pretty new recycling of the drug which is intended as a research drug and not for use in humans," North Texas Poison Center's Dr. Kristina Domanski said in a news release. "Overdose deaths have been reported in Europe and both Sweden and Finland have made U-47700 illegal."
Two North Texans have been hospitalized recently after using the drug, according to doctors at Parkland Health & Hospital System
"Four young adults used U-47700 at a party and, while two of the people were fine, two others had to be hospitalized," Domanski said. "One of them ended up in an ICU with respiratory depression."
Hypoventilation is a potentially life-threatening condition that can be brought on by the use of strong opioids. Dr. Domanski said that in the recent case, the young people who used the drug had snorted it, thinking it would have the same effect as cocaine but instead it had an effect similar to heroin.
The drug is usually sold as a powder or granules online for 65 to $200, according to advertisements in the U.S.
"You never really know what you are buying when you purchase something online, especially from an overseas vendor," Domanski said.
U-47700 is reported to be 7.5 times more potent than morphine, authorities said. Possible side effects include slow breathing and pinpoint pupils. High doses could lead to coma and death.
For more information about poison concerns, visit www.poisoncontrol.org.