What is U4? Everything you need to know about killer drug on Irish streets

(Photo: Celwell | Dreamstime.com)

Gardai probing the suspected overdose of Cork teen Michael Cornacchia, 16, this week believe he may have taken a deadly drug.

It is understood gardai discovered traces of a powder in the tragic boy’s home, which was found to be U-47700 and is also known as U4.

But what is U4? Here we take a look at the latest synthetic drug.

U4 is said to be nearly eight times stronger than morphine, giving users an intense feeling of euphoric relaxation.

The HSE believes people are buying it under the impression it is cocaine and have warned against the purity of substances bought on the streets.

In a statement, it added: “All drug users are advised there is no guarantee the drug you think you are buying and consuming is in fact the drug you are sold.

“We are aware substances sold as cocaine may in fact contain other substances such as synthetic opioids.”

U4 comes in the form of white powder and is also known as “pink” or “pinky”.

U-47700 was originally created in a laboratory by pharmaceutical giant Upjohn.

It was patented in 1976 by chemist Jacob Szmuszkovicz and was intended to treat severe pain associated with cancer, surgery or injury but was never tested on humans and ended up being relegated to research.

However the substance remained publicly available with detailed instructions on how to produce U4, leading companies in China and around the world to produce and sell batches of the sought-after opioid.

HSE consultant psychiatrist in substance misuse Dr Eamon Keenan said it is one of many psychoactive substances that have emerged in the past two to three years.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, he added: “It can be lethal. It’s a very strong opioid, it’s about seven-and- a-half times stronger than morphine. It can cause respiratory depression, people can slip into comas and death.

“People take it for its euphoric effect, which it can cause in small doses, which is why people misuse opioids.

“The problem is there’s such a range of these new psychoactive drugs emerging that we have to strike a balance between issuing alerts every time a new drug comes on the scene.

“But this is a particularly potent drug that we felt it was prudent to issue an alert.”

U4 has been linked to numerous deaths in the US, including that of two 13-year-old boys in Utah.

The lethal synthetic was also discovered in the body of Prince, together with fentanyl, after his tragic death at his Paisley Park home in Minneapolis last year.

A number of US states have made moves in the past few months to ban the toxic substance.

[“source-ndtv”]

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