Police find dangerous new synthetic opioid laced in seized heroin

Local police issue a public health warning after finding nitazenes in a batch of heroin 

Credit: Tolu Akinyemi via Unsplash

A batch of heroin that was seized by local police officers was found to contain toxic synthetic opioids.

Metropolitan Police officers in the The North East Borough Command Unit (NEBCU), which includes Waltham Forest, confirmed the presence of nitazenes in the seized heroin batch on 19th September.

According to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), nitazenes are believed to be 100 times more potent than morphine. In its statement on the finding, the Metropolitan Police said that the toxicity of the synthetic opioid is thought to be “similar to, or more than fentanyl.”

The public has been asked to call for an ambulance immediately if they spot anyone displaying symptoms of nitazene consumption. The symptoms include narrowed pupils, drowsiness, dizziness, difficulties breathing, low blood pressure or decreased heart rate, cold and clammy skin, vomiting, and lips and fingernails that are blue or grey in colour.

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In July, nitazenes were subject to a national patient safety alert after an “elevated” number of overdoses, some leading to death, were recorded among mainly heroin users over spring and summer.

Nitazene use is more common in the United States and have reportedly arrived in the UK arrived in the last two years. The NHS has said that multiple doses of overdose-reversal drug naloxone are needed to treat someone who has overdosed on nitazene, potentially more than on fentanyl, a drug that has led to widespread addiction in the United States.

As noted by The Conversation, nitazenes were originally developed as a new painkiller by a Swiss company called Ciba Pharmaceuticals in the 1950s.

Nitazenes are banned in the UK under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

The Metropolitan Police was contacted for comment.

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