A new opioid derivative, “Gray Death,” has invaded parts of the United States.
In Ohio, Cincinnati Police and the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office have issued warnings about it. The drug, also known as U-47700, is seven times more potent than morphine, police said.
U-47700 is typically light or gray in color and powdery, according to Terry Daley, spokesman for the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office. It got the name Gray Death because the drug can resemble cement. Gray Death is made up of three opiates combined with heroin or fentanyl, WCPO’s sister station, WEWS reported.
Cincinnati police seized two pounds of U-47700 on March 31 when they arrested 26-year-old Dominic Lindsey.
Police found one pound of fentanyl, heroin and U-47700 during a traffic stop. During a separate investigation of Lindsey, the Regional Enforcement Narcotics Unit, postal Inspectors and Homeland Security seized another one-pound shipment of U-47700 from Hong Kong, according to police.
Lindsey has been charged with drug trafficking and drug possession with specifications.
No one in Hamilton County, Ohio has died from a U-47700 overdose, but the drug made headlines after medical examiners found a combination of fentanyl and U-47700 in Prince’s system after he overdosed in April 2016.
Though no fatal overdoses have been reported in Hamilton County, officials worry U-47700 could contribute to the region’s already-crippling heroin epidemic. Drug overdose deaths in Ohio have increased in by 72 percent since 2011. (That's not counting the number of deaths in 2016, which have not yet been released yet by the Department of Health.)
Gray Death’s surface in Cincinnati comes just eight months after The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition announced that local heroin supplies were being mixed with an elephant tranquilizer, carfentanil.
In a July 15 press conference, Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco warned that "Narcan may not save you” from carfentanil.
Carfentanil crept into counties of Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky last summer — similar to the way fentanyl suddenly caused a sharp spike of overdose deaths in 2015.
In Hamilton County alone, fentanyl was a factor in the deaths of 344 people last year, according to the Hamilton County coroner's office.