A new synthetic opioid as powerful as fentanyl is causing overdose deaths at an ever-increasing rate, experts warn. What’s worse, the designer drug is legal in most places in the United States. Isotonitazene — commonly referred to as “iso” — is causing around 40 to 50 overdose deaths a month in the United States, compared with about six per month last summer, said Dr. Antonio De Filippo, an addiction specialist and medical director at Delphi Behavioral Health Group in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Iso appears to be slightly more potent than fentanyl, which itself is as much as 100 times more powerful than morphine, according an analysis of the new drug published last year in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.
“The emergence of this novel synthetic opioid is a major public health concern,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “The fact that it has similar potency to fentanyl makes it ripe for abuse and misuse, leading to respiratory depression, along with increased risk for death.”