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Press Release

NMS Labs Announces Toxicological Confirmation of Hundreds of Deaths Involving Novel Designer Opioids in the United States

NMS Labs
Posted on: 14 Sep 16

NMS Labs, the Nation’s leading independent provider of forensic toxicology services announced Monday the publication of a report on a series of deaths associated with two drugs that have appeared in the opioid drug-using street population. The report, published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, describes new testing methodology for several novel drugs, including furanyl fentanyl and U47700, and reports the findings in 20 fatalities which occurred in early 2016.

Dr. Barry Logan, Chief of Forensic Toxicology at NMS Labs noted, “The recent rise in use of these novel drugs of abuse is contributing to the spiraling of deaths associated with opioid abuse, and is being seen across the country. Their incidence of use is probably underestimated since these drugs are frequently a blind spot for many forensic labs, because they are novel and the labs are not looking for them in their routine procedures.”

U47700, a drug developed by pharmaceutical company Upjohn in the 1980’s, but now appropriated by illicit manufacturers, has been confirmed by NMS Labs in more than 80 deaths nationwide in the last nine months. U47700 was implicated in press reports of the death of the singer Prince earlier this summer. The drug has a potency of about 7.5 times that of morphine.

Furanyl fentanyl, which was synthesized and patented in 1986, has a potency of 50-100 times that of morphine and has been confirmed by NMS Labs in over 220 cases.

“These potent opioids are very, very dangerous substances due their potency and the fact that users don’t know what substances might be in the drugs they are buying,” said Logan, noting that the drugs are so potent that typical doses of the rescue medication, Naloxone, now carried by some law enforcement and public health agencies may not reverse the effects of the drug.

Current and comprehensive testing procedures that recognize novel drugs in forensic casework are an essential part of both the public health and public safety fields. These procedures are necessary to document the emergence of additional danger to illicit drug users and identify cases where the drugs have caused death or impairment.

Logan commented that as the number of cases increases and authorities act to outlaw them, it’s just a matter of time until the next new substance appears. He is confident NMS Labs is well positioned to identify them quickly.

About NMS Labs:

Since 1970, NMS Labs has been a leader in professional laboratory testing with an impeccable reputation in science and service. NMS Labs is best known for its innovation and ability for introducing new tests to meet the needs of the industries it serves. NMS Labs is passionate about promoting public health and safety. For more information on NMS Labs, please visit

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Last updated on: 14/09/2016

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