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News Archive

December 27, 2023

Emerging Drug Information – Nitazenes



For Immediate Release

December 27, 2023

Emerging Drug Information - Nitazene

Boulder County, Colo. -

Nitazenes are opioid analgesics. Nitazenes, despite being around for decades, have not been approved by the FDA for consumer use. This lack of regulatory approval indicates potential dangers associated with these substances. Since mid-2023, Boulder County has experienced two Nitazene related deaths which include one Etonitazene intoxication and one Protonitazene intoxication.

The recent identification of the Etonitazene compound required additional testing from a national research laboratory due to its unique chemical structure. Because of its newly identified structure, there is not a great deal of knowledge, research, or documentation available. It should be noted that the most common Nitazene compounds include Isotonitazene, Metonitazene, Etonitazene and Protonitazene.

The dynamic nature of illicit drug markets, with substances like Nitazenes being introduced, poses serious challenges for public health and law enforcement. The fact that Nitazenes have been around for decades but are only recently emerging in forensic toxicology testing highlights the constant evolution of synthetic drugs and the difficulties in keeping up with their ever-changing chemical structures. Many of these modifications are intentional by illicit drug suppliers to evade legal regulations and detection methods.

Over the past year, Boulder County experienced a decrease in Fentanyl deaths, which is extremely positive, but the emergence of Nitazenes raises new concerns. Public awareness is crucial in preventing and addressing the potential dangers associated with these substances. Nitazenes being mixed with other illicit drugs emphasizes the increased risk of harm or death. Illicit drug suppliers often mix drugs to increase potency or lower costs.

The public should be aware that Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which can reverse the effects of opioid intoxication and is a critical tool in responding to such emergencies. In the case of Nitazene intoxication, multiple doses may be required, and this underscores the potency and potential severity of Nitazene-related intoxication.