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Reuters reports that U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has declaed it would classify illicit versions of fentanyl at the same level as heroin, allowing criminal prosecution of anyone who possesses, distributes or manufactures illicit versions of the drug.
We previously reported on increasing opioid overdose deaths (quadrupled from 1999 to 2015) and that most of these were from heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. (https://buff.ly/2eHAjpn)
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were responsible for more than 33,000 U.S. deaths in 2015. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
Currently fentanyl is currently classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it is highly addictive but has a medical purpose.
The DEA has now named illicit fentanyl as a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin, means that is addictive and has no medicinal purpose.
These drugs are chemically similar to fentanyl and have similar effects on the human body, but chemists tweak their molecular structure so that they fall outside of the DEA’s scheduling regime, thereby skirting the law.
The new emergency scheduling change of fentanyl analogues is only temporary and will last 2 years, but the DEA can either extend it for an additional year or make permanent schedule changes to protect the public.