Lehigh Valley

Main drug used in 'gray death' used to be legal

BENSALEM, Pa. - Just a few months ago the drug U47700, known as "pink," was legal.

The drug can be used to create a form of grey death, which is a deadly combination of opioids.

Molly Stanton is the program manager at Livengrin, a foundation for addiction recovery.

"Grey death is a substance called carfentanil or U47700, and it's a substance that is related to fentanyl it's a synthetic opioid," Stanton said.

The drug can kill with just one touch.

"In China there were talks about weaponizing it and there were concerns it would be used as a chemical weapon because it can be absorbed through the skin," she said.

Stanton said "pink" is made mostly in illegal labs in China.

"Somebody who is wanting to deal it or cut their heroin with it orders it from a Chinese supplier online and it arrives right to their house, they mix it in and nobody knows what they are buying," said Stanton.

"Pink" has now been banned in China.

U.S. senators designed the STOP act to help prevent dangerous synthetic drugs from being shipped across our borders and in the United States. The DEA placed "pink" into Schedule I of the controlled substance act in November.

In February, the Pennsylvania Department of Health put the temporary ban on the drug as well.

"Pink" is so strong, it was created to tranquilize large animals like elephants.

"It's about 10,000 times more potent than morphine and the frightening thing is that it's 100 times more potent than fentanyl," said Stanton.

Because its use was intended for animals, Stanton said it wasn't on the controlled substance schedule at first because no one thought humans would actually use the drug.

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