Dozens of deaths nationwide linked to synthetic drug, 'pink'

Four AZ deaths linked to synthetic drug Pink

PHOENIX - A new dangerous drug known as “pink,” or "pinky" on the streets, has now been linked to at least four deaths in Arizona and nearly 50 nationwide.

The Drug Enforcement Agency in Phoenix says by touching the synthetic opioid, you could overdose from the exposure.

“Pink is seven times stronger than morphine,” said Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of the DEA in Phoenix.

He says pink, also known as U-47700 or U-4 for short, is a growing concern.

“It kind of ties in with the entire prescription drug abuse issue that we have and the increase opioid addiction,” he said.

“Addicts are seeking and pursing a better high. The market is being flooded with new drugs to meet that demand,” said Erica Curry, who is also with the DEA. For many addicts, she says, heroin and oxy just aren’t enough, so they’re tuning to pink.

“If you touch it and it dissolves and enters your skin, into your blood stream,” said Coleman.

It’s so potent, you could overdose just by touching it. Mixed with heroin and injected? It can actually stop your respiration and heartbeat.

“It’s called a hot shot when they put too much of the substance in there. It can be instantaneous death,” Coleman said.

In the last year, four overdoses have resulted in death in Arizona. While it is illegal in all 50 states, it’s not hard to get. It’s easily accessible, acquired through websites from places based in China.

“You could have a kid sitting next to you on his cell phone, 35 bucks for a gram of pink,” said Coleman. “He can order it. Five days later it shows up on your doorstep.”

And how someone takes it determines how fast they get high.

“You can smoke them, you can inject them and you can even eat them,” he said.

Users cut across all groups.

“We see everybody from every class at every age acquiring these substances,” said Coleman.

Pink is on the DEA’s radar.

“Anybody that’s going to traffic these poisons, we’re targeting all of them at different times,” he said. 

The drug has been connected to nearly 50 deaths nationwide. For more information and resources on substance abuse in Arizona, you can visit http://substanceabuse.az.gov/.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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