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UK govt. bans string of ‘dangerous’ synthetic opioid drugs



The UK Government has banned a raft of dangerous synthetic opioids in a bid to stop drug overdoses and deaths.

The government made 15 new synthetic opioids illegal on Wednesday and they would now be classified as class A drugs.

It meant that anyone found with the drugs could face up to seven years in jail, an unlimited fine, or both while dealers could be handed a life sentence and/or a fine.

The move followed advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and would see five other drugs, including three stimulants, also banned.

The UK Home Office said the drugs being banned, which have similar effects to heroin and fentanyl.

The drugs were highly addictive and incredibly dangerous and posed a higher risk of accidental overdose, which has become a widespread problem in other countries.

Announcing the plans in November, the department said while there was “no current evidence’’ to show that the substances were prevalent in the UK, there have been some deaths linked to the drugs.

“This is why the Government is taking decisive action to safeguard communities.’’

UK Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “we are highly alert to the threat from synthetic drugs and have been taking a range of preventative action.

This is learning from experiences around the globe, to keep these vile drugs off our streets.

“Our plan is working the overall quantities of synthetic opioids reaching the UK remain lower than other countries, but we are not complacent.

“Placing these toxic drugs under the strictest controls sends a clear message that the consequences for peddling them will be severe.’’

The synthetic opioids to be added to Class A of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, are: Metonitazene; Protonitazene; Isotonitazene; Butonitazene; Flunitazene; Metodesnitazene (metazene) and Etodesnitazene (etazene).

Others are: N-Pyrrolidino-etonitazene (Etonitazepyne); N-Piperidinyl-etonitazene (Etonitazepipne); N-Pyrrolidino Protonitazene; Ethyleneoxynitazene; N-Desethyl protonitazene; N-Desethylisotonitazene; N-Desethyl-etonitazene and Brorphine.

Five other drugs have also been banned, including cumyl-PeGaClone, a synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist, which can cause complications such as seizures and liver failure.

Three stimulants that have similar effects to ketamine diphenidine, ephenidine and methoxyphenidine would be made class B drugs.

A benzodiazepine drug named remimazolam would be classified as a class C drug.

Its legitimate medical uses will be allowed through changes to drug rules.

Cecilia Odey

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