The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) placed the synthetic opioid furanyl fentanyl onto the list of Schedule I drugs Tuesday, effectively banning the substance, while also declaring that it has no medicinal value.
This is the fifth synthetic opioid the DEA added to the Schedule I list, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The DEA is trying to keep up with the growing opioid epidemic by identifying the many variants and then subsequently making them officially illegal. Along with the thousands of lives lost, opioid abuse is estimated to cost $78.5 billion a year, which includes expenses both personal and communal.
As of 2012, there were “an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers and an estimated 467,00 addicted to heroin,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Opioid is the name of a general category of pain medicine that includes more familiar drugs like oxycodone, codeine and morphine. (RELATED: Laced Opioids Are Confusing Coroners And Health Experts)
Furanyl fentanyl is believed to be anywhere from 10 to 50 times as strong as heroin and it is the cousin to the more common fentanyl, which includes legal forms available for serious pain management, like cancer treatment. But unlike fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl cannot be legally prescribed since it is considered a knock-off and is untested.
From the start of this year through September, there were 265 fatalities related to furanyl fentanyl, according to NMS Labs, a prominent private laboratory. (RELATED: Two Men Overdose On Heroin At McDonald’s, All Caught On Facebook Live)
The DEA announced plans in October to reduce the manufacturing of opioids by 25 percent for 2017.
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