What are Nitazenes?
Nitazenes (benzimidazole-opioid substances)
are a class of non-fentanyl-related synthetic opioids that first made their
appearance in the illicit drug market in the United States in 2019. However, nitazenes have been in existence for
much longer. Three nitazenes (isotonitazene, etonitazene, clonitazene) were
developed by a pharmaceutical research company in the 1950s as potential
alternatives to pain relievers such as morphine but were never approved for medical
use. Of these, isotonitazene was the first nitazene
to make its way into the nation’s illicit drug supply. Since then, several other
nitazenes and nitazene analogs have emerged on the illicit drug market in the
United States. In the Houston Metropolitan Area, nitazenes were newly
identified by crime laboratories in 2022 in seized counterfeit oxycodone,
hydrocodone, and alprazolam (Xanax) tablets, and also in powder form.
Some nitazenes are even more potent than fentanyl. Multiple doses of
naloxone (Narcan) may be needed to reverse a nitazene-involved overdose. Because of their high potency and the
increase in the nation’s illicit drug supply, the Drug Enforcement
Administration temporarily placed several nitazenes in Schedule I of the
Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
the links below to learn more about nitazenes.
Psychoactive Substances: Nitazenes
Analysis and Public Policy Association, 9-23
Opioids are Joining the Illicit Drug Supply and They are More Potent than
News and World Report, 9-6-23
Group of Synthetic Opioids May Be More Potent than Fentanyl, Study Warns
of Novel Synthetic Opioids May Require More Naloxone to Reverse an Overdose
Partnership to End Addiction, 9-2023
Opioid is Stronger than Fentanyl
Public Health Information Coalition, 2-28-23
Other Name: Nitazenes
Drug Enforcement Administration, 11-22
Nitazenes: What to Know about the Illegal
Opioids that can be More Potent than Fentanyl
Good Rx, 12-15-22