Johnson County officials said Friday that a second death in the county has been attributed to a potent new imported drug.
The drug, known as U-47700, is not illegal in Kansas. But authorities are working to change that.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation on Thursday issued a public alert warning of the drug, which is reported to be eight times as powerful as morphine.
“U-47700 produces strong effects, including sedation and respiratory depression, which could be harmful or fatal,” the KBI warned.
District Attorney Steve Howe said Friday that at least two recent deaths in Johnson County have been attributed to the drug. The KBI said there have been a number of accidental overdose deaths across the state.
Howe, the KBI and other prosecutors in the state are working with the Kansas Board of Pharmacy to craft an emergency order to regulate the drug.
Overdose deaths have been attributed to the drug across the country, and officials in Ohio, Wyoming, and Georgia have already taken steps to make it illegal to use, possess and distribute U-47700.
“It needs to be addressed as quickly as possible,” Howe said.
According to the warning from the KBI, the drug is a synthetic opioid analgesic that has no accepted medical use.
It can be harmful if inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin.
The drug is made overseas, particularly in China, and is often sold in containers such as vials or plastic zippered baggies that may be labeled “not for human consumption” or “for research purposes only,” according to the KBI.
“If you or someone you know is suspected of ingesting U-47700, seek medical attention immediately,” the KBI warned.