Virginia State Police say they have recovered a synthetic opioid even more powerful and deadly than fentanyl, according to a local report.
Protonitazene is a new synthetic opioid that is around three times more powerful than fentanyl – which is already 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
In December, the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education warned that “nitazenes” were gaining traction across the United States and Canada.
Dr. Kimberly Lane, a chemistry professor at Radford University, told WFXR-TV that protonitazene binds tighter to receptors in the brain, making it more potent. She said the drug has started to become a concern in just the last few months.
“Because it’s a fairly new drug, they’re still looking at how it binds and what that might look like,” Lane said.
Narcan is a lifesaving drug used to help people experiencing overdoses. A single nasal spray is usually sufficient to help someone experiencing an overdose caused by fentanyl. However, someone may need two to three times that in order to treat a protonitazene overdose.