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New Deadly Opioid Responsible for ~120 Deaths Reaches Georgia

The novel synthetic opioid, with effects similar to fentanyl, is the latest opioid drug to emerge on the illicit market.  

There’s another deadly opioid on the streets and its made its way to the Peach State.

A novel synthetic opioid named brorphine, with effects similar to fentanyl, is the latest  opioid drug to emerge on the illicit market.

In a new publication released last week, the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE), in partnership with NMS Labs (Horsham PA), highlighted a series of deaths associated with the use of brorphine, which began to appear in the United States in June of 2020. First identifications were centralized in Midwestern states, including Minnesota and Illinois, and by October the spread had reached states as far east as Pennsylvania and New York and as far south as Georgia and Louisiana. To date, brorphine has been involved in at least 120 deaths.

Dr. Barry Logan, Chief Scientist at NMS Labs – a laboratory performing testing for many coroners and medical examiners offices across the United States – noted that brorphine is the latest opioid in a series of novel drugs creating challenges for emergency rooms, first responders, and labs assisting with death investigations.  “Brorphine appeared unexpectedly in June 2020, taking over the market from a previously prevalent novel opioid called isotonitazene.  In its wake, we are already seeing additional new opioids entering recreational markets,” said Logan.

The CFSRE laboratory, located in Pennsylvania, monitors for the appearance of new drugs in the United States and warns public health and public safety agencies about their findings.  According to a press release, CFSRE has identified 17 new drugs for the the first time in the U.S. drug supply to date in 2020. Among them are six new opioids – including brorphine.  Dr. Alex Krotulski, who manages the CFSRE’s NPS Discovery program, explained that while these new opioids are not chemically related to deadly fentanyl, they have similar lethal effects.  “Brorphine and isotonitazene have been identified in at least 350 deaths in the last 14 months at our laboratories alone.  And nationally their statistics are likely undercounted due to labs not testing for these substances yet or not having the ability to test for them”.

The CFSRE works in collaboration with NMS Labs, coroners, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies using emerging technologies to make more timely identifications of new drugs as they enter U.S. markets. This timely data allows for more rapid legal regulations or bans and overall better drug user education.  Krotulski hopes that the new brorphine publication will raise awareness of this dangerous new opioid in the illicit drug supply, ultimately leading to the potential for scheduling action and the reduction of fatal outcomes.



  1. Kelly

    November 24, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Please, stop using stock photos of LEGAL PAIN MEDICATIONS when writing about ILLICIT DRUGS. People in pain are stigmatized DAILY because of photos like this.

  2. Don

    November 24, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Your article mentions nothing but illicit drugs. It is irresponsible to show a prescription bottle. This contributes to nothing but adding to the stigma that intractable/chronic pain patients face. Please stop this practice.

  3. Jenifer

    November 24, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    There is huge different between people who really need this medication due to severe physical pain issues and illegal drug on the street. Just because some says they got perocet (on the street) it probably is not a pharmaceutical made drug but a street drug with who knows what. But those addiction places say see doctor are prescribing to much when 80% of addicts never saw a doctor for a pain prescription. Massachusetts did a study and only 1% of there opiate deaths were from people who got a prescription within 3 years and against most never got a script from a doctor ever. We could take every opiate out if the USA and let people stay in horrible pain and these people would move on to some other drug to abuse. Most of these people also do not die from one drug but a combination of drug but opiate are the new drug to blame for addiction which is a mental health issue and the drugs is just a symptom. Until the addict work on finding out why they use and make lifestyle changes. Just taking away from the disabled just helps those people to seek is to self medicate physical pain and when it does not work leads to suicide or have a greatly shorten misery of a life since chronic pain is a huge stressed on the body. Meanwhile good people who took there medication for years with no issues are having there live torn apart while these addicts steal and con people out of money to shove whatever up there arm. We have a lot of people who are struggling mentally and instead of telling people to stuff it they need to get counseling before they self medicate emotional and mental issues by reaching out to drugs to feel better. It is sad when other abuse a great medication for pain for those who live a life that only be taken away because people think it is fun to abuse. 80% of opiate addicts start before they are 25 years old. Well doctors are not even prescribing to those who need so these people are not getting addicted by doctors and that way never really the case. The more the government limit opiate for patient the worse they get.

  4. Maria

    November 24, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Please quit spreading the false narrative that opioid deaths are caused by prescription medications. Yes, your article states it is from illicit opioids but yet your photo specifically shows a prescription bottle with a prescription label. You need to do some eye awakening research on the damage this illicit opioid crisis has done to disabled Americans that suffer from an array of disease and life changing accidents that live in constant pain that are now being denied pain medication that they have been on for years and are suffering needlessly.

  5. Carol Benack

    November 25, 2020 at 11:53 am

    The writers and editors of these “opioid deaths” need to understand something. Let me VERY clear when I say, get the pictures of Legal Rx Bottles out of you articles about drug addicts dying of overdoses!” The addiction crisis is about addicts chasing a high and mixing illegal substances until they can find it.I say this because, you are continuing to portray to the general public, the absolute WRONG ides (lies) about the epidemic of overdoses being Legal Rx Opiate medications ! Stop stigmatizing Chronic Pain Patients who cannot walk into drug stores anymore. Time to start telling the correct story, which is one where folks living in torture due to Incurable Diseases cannot get their prescriptions that allowed us a QOL after two decades because The DEA., CDC, PROP & the the media have been portraying for more than 4 years every single day in the living rooms of Americans !

  6. Ed

    November 25, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    I agree with Kelly but she did not take it far enough. In addition to what she said,
    how about changing the headline to the truth:

    “New Illicit, Illegal Street Drug Responsible for ~120 Deaths Reaches Georgia”

    People in pain are stigmatized DAILY because of dishonest headlines like this.

  7. Margie Baas

    November 27, 2020 at 12:43 am

    Fentanyl is not a deadly drug it is very useful for severe pain, safe enough to be administered by EMTs at rather high doses, 100mcg.

    Illicit fentanyl can be deadly. Illicit fentanyl or even carfentanyl is not the same as pharmaceutical fentanyl. To not state the difference does a great injustice to pain patients.

    Most pain patients, less than 1 % become addicted to their meds but articles like this only harm pain patients.

    I would say more but the comment above mine pretty much says what I would have said.

  8. Julie Jager

    November 27, 2020 at 10:07 am

    If this is an illicit drug, why are they showing legal prescription bottles in the picture with this article?? It is SO misleading!! We are already having a hard enough time as chronic pain patients being treated as having legitimate issues proving we actually need to have our meds to have the quality of live we deserve. This doesn’t involve any use of illicit or illegal drug use of which we are accused of all the time. These information in these articles are very important but don’t continue misleading people by linking them with legally prescribed medications.

  9. Kathi

    November 27, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    I agree. That’s hydrocodone in the picture… NOT some deadly illicit drug. You’re making Chronic pain patients pay for all these, making our quality of life miserable when we can’t obtain legal prescriptions for pain without being branded drug seekers! These articles make me angry!!!!

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