“500 times stronger than morphine”, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines warns of the circulation of a “particularly dangerous” opioid in France

“500 times stronger than morphine”, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines warns of the circulation of a “particularly dangerous” opioid in France
“500 times stronger than morphine”, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines warns of the circulation of a “particularly dangerous” opioid in France

The National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) issued a warning on Monday about the circulation in France of new synthetic opioids, nitazenes, “particularly dangerous” car “more powerful than other opioids” including morphine.

“Given these risks, and in a context where summer population movements will be very significant in France, the authorities have decided to include these compounds on the list of narcotics.”says the drug gendarme. This means that “production, sale and use” of the nitazenes will be banned from Tuesday July 9, 2024. In France, already two deaths linked to the taking of these substances have been observed.

Mainly used for pain relief

These substances, also called “benzimidazole derivatives” and presented in powder, tablet or liquid form, are used mainly to relieve painsuch as morphine or fentanyl, which are also the subject of an illicit market and consumption.

Two deaths in France

“They can cause overdoses” Who “can occur suddenly, within a very short time after taking, et cause a risk to lifebecause of their power”warns the public agency. It recommends to users and their entourage “to have available one or several naloxone kitsthe antidote in case of overdose”.

Signs of an opioid overdose may alsot “appear several hours later” by difficulty breathing normally, nausea, a constricted pupil, impaired consciousness, drowsiness leading to coma which can lead to death, explains the ANSM. Two cases of death have been reported in France. In England and Eastern Europe, several dozen deaths related to nitazenes have been reported since 2023.

Opiates from China

The UN warned on June 26, 2024, in a report, about the emergence of this new group of synthetic drugs potentially more powerful than the devastating fentanyl and about a “wave” of associated deaths. Nitazenes, 500 times stronger than morphine, “have recently emerged in high-income countries, causing an increase in overdose deaths”observed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Noting “the expansion of these very powerful opiates”mainly from China, an expert, Angela Me, mentioned a probable link with “the situation in Afghanistan”where opium production has fallen since the Taliban banned poppy cultivation.

UNODC expressed concern that “Heroin users are turning to synthetic opioids, posing serious health risks”such as fentanyl, opiate substitution treatments (methadone, subutex), and now nitazenes.

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