Synthetic drug potentially too powerful for overdose reversal

man in hazmat hazmat pink u-47

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A powerful drug has made its way to the Upstate, and a popular remedy could not be as effective in treating potential overdoses.

The synthetic drug U-47700 or “pink” became more widely known in the Upstate after two people were arrested and indicted on federal charges for selling it out of a Greenville apartment complex.

FAVOR, an addiction treatment center, says it’s an escalating issue in the Upstate.  They held a meeting Thursday evening to make an action plan on how to prepare for it entering the community.

Currently, police and EMS use NARCAN as a way to reverse the effects of an overdose.

Greenville police say people usually respond in minutes after taking it. However, depending on the overdose, police may have to administer a second dosage.

According to FAVOR, 79 people overdosed in Greenville last year, but NARCAN helped reverse 721 overdoses.

The problem is with “pink” and other synthetic drugs, it’s not working as easily.

“NARCAN works a certain way where it was designed to kind of knock the opioid molecule off the receptor, and since this really isn’t truly an opioid molecule, it’s having difficulty kind of knocking it off the receptor, so much as if they’d have to have another version of NARCAN to kind of knock it off,” said FAVOR CEO, Rich Jones.

Even just a little of the drug is extremely powerful, and it takes a lot of NARCAN to reverse the effects. Law enforcement officers have to wear Hazmat suits around the drug.

Jones says the introduction of this drug in the community is scary.

“We’re losing people,” Jones said. “People we know, people that we’ve known along the way, good kids, older people who’ve fell prey to this, so it’s very personal to us.”

He believes more of the drug and more drug dealers are coming to Greenville, so he wants his team to make a plan, now.

“This is going to have to be guerilla warfare against addiction,” Jones said. “We need to be in the community. We need to be with the people.”

One of the ways FAVOR is doing that is by partnering with Greenville Memorial Hospital. If someone has an overdose, their team members will be there at the hospital to help. They hope to have that program up and running by the end of summer.

“You can’t wait for people to hit bottom, not with this stuff, there’s not wiggle room,” Jones said.

Last month, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a law that banned both “pink” and fentanyl in the state.

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