What is rainbow fentanyl? Colorful pills drive new warnings about deadliest drug in the US

A new wave of concern has erupted in the United States over multicolored “rainbow fentanyl” pills, powders and blocks resembling candy or sidewalk chalk that are being sold and used in several states and may pose a threat to young people.

But parents of young children shouldn’t panic unduly, and the advent of this new product is just a small part of the larger ongoing opioid crisis.

Rainbow Fentanyl comes in bright colors and can be used in pill or powder form containing illegal fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that makes them extremely addictive and potentially deadly if someone overdoses while trying to get a high from to reach the drugs.

This multicolored fentanyl may appeal to young people or fool them into thinking it’s safe, but experts say illegal fentanyl has long been hiding in seemingly other products, and fentanyl is fentanyl — it’s all dangerous, rainbow or not.

“Colored fentanyl pills have been around for a number of years. Typically it was blue pills labeled ‘M30’ to counterfeit oxycodone, which is a much weaker opioid,” said Joseph Palamar, associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health, who has studied trends in illicit fentanyl. said in an email to CNN.

“I think the big difference that people worry about is accidental ingestion. People worry about their kids taking one of these pills because they think they’re some other drug or even some kind of candy,” Palamar said. “I don’t think the color of the pills greatly increases the risk for people who don’t use fentanyl, but there’s always a chance someone who uses fentanyl might leave their pills lying around within reach of children.”

He added: “We have to keep in mind that these pills cost money so people don’t throw them on the floor for kids to find. I don’t think people will give these pills away as Halloween candy.”

Origin of the Rainbow Fentanyl Warning

The US Drug Enforcement Administration issued an alert in August alerting the public to this “alarming emerging trend” of “colorful fentanyl available in the United States.”

At the time, the agency said it and its law enforcement partners had seized the colorful fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states. Fentanyl remains the nation’s deadliest drug threat, according to the DEA.

But the DEA didn’t specify in its announcement whether rainbow fentanyl has resulted in overdoses or deaths in young people.

“Rainbow Fentanyl — fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes and sizes — is a deliberate attempt by drug dealers to promote addiction in children and young adults,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in the August announcement.

Since then, some colleges and universities have been warning students about the presence and dangers of rainbow fentanyl, and the California Department of Health has alerted the state’s K-12 school boards that rainbow fentanyl is “a new trend.”.

At Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, doctors have found higher exposures to fentanyl in both young children and adolescents, said Dr. Sam Wang, the hospital’s pediatric toxicologist, told CNN on Friday. Although he and his colleagues are aware of the rainbow fentanyl warnings, he has not heard any patients or parents mention it.

After all, fentanyl is fentanyl, be it in the form of rainbow-colored pills or simply as a white powder.

“It just comes out in a different form to be potentially more attractive, more quote, unquote ‘fun’ because it’s potentially fun to take,” said Wang, associate professor of pediatrics at the university’s Anschutz Medical Campus from Colorado.

And when young people use illegal drugs, sometimes they don’t know what they really contain or how dangerous these substances could be.

When it comes to rainbow fentanyl, “the fentanyl itself is going to be the same problem as the fake pharmaceutical fentanyl. We don’t know how much is in it – it may vary. We don’t know the nature of fentanyl,” Wang said. “And so those concerns still carry over to this product. It looks like it’s a potential hazard for young children right now, and then it will be more attractive for people to use it and draw consequences from it as well.”

The rise of fentanyl

The United States has faced an opioid overdose epidemic — and waves of opioid overdose deaths — for decades, beginning with a spike in prescription opioid overdose deaths in the early 2000s, followed by a spike in heroin-related deaths -Overdose starting in 2010 and, most recently, a spike in synthetic opioid overdose deaths that began in 2013 and was fueled by potent fentanyl.

Pharmaceutical grade fentanyl is a synthetic opioid intended to help patients, such as cancer patients, manage severe pain. It is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and is typically prescribed in the form of skin patches or lozenges. But recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdoses, and deaths in the United States have been linked to illegally manufactured fentanyl, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest data suggests that the number of annual drug overdose deaths has increased by 44% compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic. About 76,000 deaths were reported in the 12 months ended March 2020. The latest preliminary data from the CDC shows that in the 12 months ended March 2022, more than 109,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States.

Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, were implicated in more than two-thirds of overdose deaths in the year to March 2022. Synthetic opioid-related deaths have risen by a staggering 80% over the past two years, CDC data shows.

Rainbow Fentanyl has attracted attention due to the bright colors of the products, but the illegal fentanyl the products contain represents a continuation of the ongoing opioid epidemic. The only difference between Rainbow Fentanyl and the fentanyl products of the past seems to be the coloring be.

“The reason it’s colored is just to differentiate products. If we had a regulated market, they would be differentiated in different ways – we don’t have that. It has nothing to do with marketing to kids at all, period, whatever,” said Maya Doe Simkins, co-founder of the Opioid Safety and Naloxone Network and co-director of the Remedy Alliance, a group of harm reduction groups working to make naloxone more accessible make.

Simkins compared the different colors of rainbow fentanyl to how people used food coloring in heroin in the past, and she said the colors are sometimes used to distinguish batches.

“It’s just a distinction between your product, my product, or this batch and the next batch,” she said.

Increasing fentanyl seizures

Illegal fentanyl has long lurked in drugs, and its presence appears to be increasing.

A study published in May in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that the number of fentanyl-containing powders and pills seized by law enforcement agencies in the United States increased between 2018 and 2021.

The weight of fentanyl powders seized increased from 298.2 kilograms in 2018 to 2,416 kilograms in 2021, and the number of pills seized increased from 42,202 in 2018 to 2,089,186 in 2021, according to the study, whose lead author Palamar was.

“We found that not only did fentanyl seizures increase, but the proportion of pills confiscated as a percentage of total fentanyl seizures increased. Pill seizures increased from 14% in early 2018 to 29% in late 2021,” Palamar wrote in his email to CNN.

“We have no information as to what these confiscated pills allegedly were, but we believe many were disguised as oxycodone or even Xanax,” he wrote. “Seizures of these counterfeit pills have increased rapidly, indicating increasing availability, and availability will continue to increase.”

With this surge, counterfeit pills are harder to identify, but Palamar said people can use test strips to detect traces of illegal fentanyl if they have concerns.

“People can buy fentanyl test strips for as little as a dollar. Most of these strips are designed for urine testing, but they can detect the presence of fentanyl if used properly,” Palamar wrote.

“I recommend anyone who intends to use an illegally purchased pill or powder, such as cocaine, test the drug before using it,” he added. “There are also hundreds of newer fentanyl analogues and other opioids that can be very dangerous and the test strips can’t detect. I’m concerned that test strips will give some people a false sense of security, but they are something.”

The CNN Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery company. All rights reserved.

https://6abc.com/rainbow-fentanyl-pills-powder-blocks/12265571/ What is rainbow fentanyl? Colorful pills drive new warnings about deadliest drug in the US

Alley Einstein

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