EBR coroner issues warning about new illicit street drugs

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There is a new drug on the streets and more than a dozen people have died from it, one here Baton Rouge.

The EBR Coroner, Beau Clark, MD, said it is seven and a half times stronger than morphine and, until recently, was undetectable

They can take on any form, can be swallowed, snorted or injected. The outcome of the latest designer drug on the streets could be getting more deadly. Dr. Clark said it does not take much. "In the right circumstances, the ingestion of just a little bit of this drug is fatal," Clark said.

It is called Etizolam, Fentanyl, or U-4777, also known as pink or pinky. Dr. Clark said the drugs are not new but their new makeup includes a molecule that has disguised them in test results and, until now, online. "The scary thing is that kids can order this stuff off Amazon. It's really that kind of thing," Clark said.

Doctors are constantly fighting to stay ahead of the so-called mad scientists who are making them. So are rehabilitation specialists like Debra Thomas who works with addicts at the O'Brien House.

"I would say three out three out of five that enter have opioid addiction problems," Thomas said.

Clients typically spend four to six months at the O'Brien House. Thomas said they are required to take drug tests twice a week. Screening for the new drugs just adds more costs the non-profit can't really afford.

"We try to keep the cost to a minimum, especially for client fees and services. Therefore, trying to test for specific drugs puts us in an area where we have to pay more for the send-off drugs screens," Thomas said.

O'Brien House counselor in training, Chasity Byrne, said it is a constant battle and seeing people lose it can be terrifying. "It's one of those things that tug at your heart because every time you tryche to catch one they change another molecule and bring another one out,"Byrne said.

It is why doctors are urging everyone to really think hard before they take a risk they may not live to regret.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.