THE HSE HAS issued a public health warning to illegal drug users in the Cork area over a powerful new drug.
The warning comes following the death of 16-year-old Michael Cornacchia at his home in the Deermount area from a believed overdose.
The HSE warning concerns the drug U-47700, also known as U-4. It has only been discovered for the first time in Ireland recently.
It advises that the drug could be sold in the form of cocaine.
“We are aware that substances sold as cocaine may in fact contain other substances such as synthetic opioids,” the advisory said.
“There is no way of telling what is in a powder or pill just by looking at it. It may look like the drug you want to purchase but it may well be something else.
There is no quality control on illegal drugs. There can be problems with purity and contaminants in all illegal drugs.
U-4 is said to be eight times stronger than heroin and has been linked to significant number of deaths in the United States.
It is in the same family as the drug fentanyl, which is used in Ireland as a substitute to heroin.
Speaking this morning on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Dr Eamon Keenan – national clinical director for addiction services with the HSE – said that the warning had been issued as a result of the death of Michael Cornacchia.
“Our message to people is that you never know what you’re getting when you go into the illicit drug market,” said Keenan.
This is a particularly potent drug and we felt it was prudent to issue an alert.
He said the drug was a research chemical developed in the 1970s but had never been used for any purpose. It has emerged in recent years as an illicit drug.
The HSE said it was “always better not to take unknown or illicit drugs at all due to unwanted and serious medical and psychological side effects”.
However, it said if a person did decided to take an illegal substance they should:
- Never mix your drugs with alcohol or other drugs (legal or illegal) as they can all interact dangerously with each other.
- It is less risky to take a smaller amount of a substance when you are unsure of its source. Always have a friend with you who can call the emergency services for help if you get into difficulty and call for help as soon as possible.
A post-mortem was carried out on the body of Michael Cornacchia yesterday.
Read: Body of 16-year-old boy found in Cork>
Read: Post mortem to be carried out on 16-year-old boy found dead in Cork home