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The new street drug law enforcement says is more potent and deadly than fentanyl

Explaining “ISO” and the class of synthetic opioids that could overtake Fentanyl.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Medical examiners and forensic labs that analyze drug seizures currently say most of the overdose deaths in the Tampa Bay area are from fentanyl or are fentanyl-related. However, they’re also focused on a new and deadly synthetic opioid in a class of its own.

It’s called Isotonitazene or “ISO.” Recently, Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody warned about the drug.

10 Tampa Bay wanted to know how common the drug is and how many lives “ISO” has claimed in our area.

According to Florida Poison Information Center, in the past five years, they've had two calls about “ISO” and both were in 2022.

The Hillsborough and Pinellas County medical examiners' offices told us there have not been any deaths attributed specifically to Isotonitazene.

So why the alarm?

The director of the Pinellas County Forensic Lab at the District Six Medical Examiner's Office explained the panic.

Reta Newman says the numbers are misleading because “ISO” is the street name for a class of drugs known as “nitazenes.”

She says Isotonitazene has a lot of cousins. A drug user might assume they’re getting “ISO” but it could be another nitazene that is more potent and more deadly.

According to Newman, one of those drugs is “N-pyrrolinido etonitazene" and shared a picture of a sample she analyzed from a drug seizure.  It contained that and "metanitaze." She says both are more potent and deadly than fentanyl.

"This is new, these etonitazenes are new, and they're creeping up quickly and they're a huge concern and they are causing deaths. And by the end of the year, we're going to have a whole lot of deaths attributed to them,”  Newman said.

She adds that this year, the medical examiner's office has five confirmed deaths from drugs in the category of nitazenes and roughly five more pending. According to Newman, fentanyl leads to overdose deaths and it is not in the nitazene category.

According to a recent study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, law enforcement seizures increased nearly 50-fold from 2018 to 2021.

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