A new deadly drug in India

The prescription drug is a fast-acting and powerful pain medication, often prescribed to late-stage cancer patients.

Another designer drug called China White, hundred times more potent than heroin, is hitting Indian markets. The legendary singer Prince died after overdosing on the drug.

The narcotic department is having sleepless nights. While the investigations in the recent drug bust cases are yet to be solved, another harmful drug, fentanyl, the opioid that killed the American singer Prince, is hitting Indian markets.

The prescription drug is a fast-acting and powerful pain medication, often prescribed to late-stage cancer patients. China White is a street name given to a highly potent heroin substitute made from the homemade designer version of fentanyl.

“China White used to be the street name of heroin and opium, but it is being used for designer or synthetic opioid, which is a mixture of fentanyl groups of chemicals. It is hundred times more potent than heroin. It goes by the name China White because it is much cheaper than heroin. It is called China White like any other Chinese items,” says S.K. Sinha, (South) zonal director Narcotics Control Bureau. Every chemical formula in drugs is mandatorily covered under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substance Act. But designer drugs are tweaking the formula in order to bypass the law.

Singer Prince had died after overdosing on fentanylSinger Prince had died after overdosing on fentanyl

“Enforcement agencies in India are aware about the danger it poses. Any such trafficking or abuse shall be taken seriously and dealt accordingly,” warns Sinha.

It works much like any other opioid, but in powdered form, inhaled or injected, fentanyl is very dangerous.

“Many people who are prescribed fentanyl patches are worried that they may become addicted since they can cause euphoria and pleasure when used by people who are not in pain. However, when these medications are used to treat physical pain, it is unlikely that patients will become addicted to them. Fentanyl patch is placed directly onto the skin. The medication is absorbed into the bloodstream without the patient needing to swallow a pill. This patch is considered to be a “long-acting” pain medication, especially in cases of cancer where pain relief is the backbone of palliative care. The first time a patch is applied, it takes about 12-24 hours for a patient to begin having relief from pain. The patch will continue to work for 72 hours (three days). Every three days, it will need to be replaced. Tolerance may develop on long-term usage,” explains Dr Bharat A. Vaswani, Senior Medical Oncologist and Hematolo-gist, Yashoda.

Fentanyl is much lucrative for a trafficker than heroin, because it can be mixed with a lot of other things and sold on the streets. “While the powder indeed appears white, it should not be mistaken for being pure heroin, as it is actually a mixture of heroin and fentanyl,” says the NCB official and adds, “Delhi seizure is the first one.”

Many reports are saying that this new designer drug is sweeping the Capital, but dismissing the reports that China White is available in India, NCB Deputy Director General R.P. Singh says, “In India we have not had any incidents of either consumption or death by fentanyl. There are incidents of heroin coming to India from Myanmar, but in a very small quantity into North East. From there, they travel to Delhi and other parts.”

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