Just days after we published news of DEA warnings about fentanyl’s danger, the Drug Enforcement Agency has issued a notice to “temporarily schedule the synthetic opioid, N-(1-phenethylpiperidin-4-yl)-N-phenylfuran-2-carboxamide (furanyl fentanyl), into schedule I pursuant to the temporary scheduling provisions of the Controlled Substances Act.”
The DEA has taken the action, not surprisingly, “to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety,” and will temporarily sanction and regulate the analog in accordance with schedule I substances of the Controlled Substances Act.
This could be the agency’s first step toward regulation of other analogs and would seem to represent, at least, an acknowledgment of the dangers of the 100-times-stronger-than-morphine opioid that is presently the most widely used synthetic narcotic.
An analog to the synthetic pain medication, the DEA had no record of furanyl fentanyl prior to 2015. Hower, 2015 and 2016 have seen the substance identified in labs in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
On a seemingly daily basis, the news wires brim with reports of overdose deaths, as the drug and its analogs are frequently used as a cutting agent in heroin. Recently, the city of Philadelphia reported a 636% increase in fentanyl-related deaths year over year, with the city’s health commissioner labelling the situation “an epidemic.”
The DEA indicates that while fentanyl was first produced by Paul Janssen in 1960, the furanyl analog wasn’t described in patent literature until 1986. It has never been approved by the FDA for human consumption, and the organization acknowledges the rash of overdoses associated with furanyl fentanyl and it’s abuse for its “morphine-like properties.”
As C, Aliens wrote recently, a grassroots effort to ban the sale of fentanyl in dark net marketplaces has cropped up, with Darknet Heroes League banning the sale of the drug and its analogs.
Titles II and III of the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, collectively referred to as the “Controlled Substances Act” grant the DEA regulatory authority to “prevent, detect, and eliminate the diversion of controlled substances and listed chemicals into the illicit market while providing for the legitimate medical, scientific, research, and industrial needs of the United States.”
The DEA classifies controlled substances into one of five schedules based on potential for abuse, accepted medical use, and the degree of dependence the drug may cause.
We’ll continue to monitor both DEA and dark web actions on fentanyl.