The Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) announced September 7, 2016 that it intends to temporarily schedule the synthetic opioid known as U-47700 on Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act because it poses an imminent hazard to the public safety. A final scheduling order will be made on or after October 7, 2016. Schedule I drugs are drugs that have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S., and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

U-47700 is a synthetic opioid with morphine-like properties, and is commonly known as “pink” or “pinky.” Although it has not been approved for human consumption, it is available on the internet, primarily from Chinese suppliers. It has been growing in popularity with recreational drug users but the substance can be toxic even in small doses. A number of states, including Ohio, Georgia and Wyoming, have made the drug illegal.

The DEA stated that it is aware of at least 15 confirmed fatalities resulting from the use of U-47700, but as many as 50 deaths have been reported nationwide as linked to the drug. Only a few days after the DEA’s scheduling announcement, two 13-year-olds died in Utah on September 13, 2016. Local law enforcement believes their deaths are related to U-47700 and has warned the public because the drug is cheap and easily obtained on the internet.