It’s relatively new to America’s drug scene, but in the last few years, its victims have included everyone from musician Prince to a 10-year-old boy in Miami. The culprit is fentanyl, a lesser-known—but incredibly lethal—opioid that has become increasingly prevalent in the United States.
Last summer, police in Bucks County, Pennsylvania picked up a man carrying an unmarked vial of red liquid. During questioning, the 33-year-old explained that the vial contained human blood and fentanyl, a painkiller 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The liquid’s street name: “BLOOD.” (All-caps is apparently the going style for the substance’s street name, but we’ll stick to “Blood” from this point forward because frankly, using BLOOD over and over again makes this article look like it was written by the Count from “Sesame Street”.)
Prince did not possess a prescription for fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has been described as 100 times more powerful than morphine, the source said.
The U.S. is currently embroiled in an opioid epidemic—the drugs were involved in 28,647 deaths in 2014, up 200 percent from the year 2000. And while researchers have developed painkillers that are harder to abuse andmedications that reduce the effects of opioids once a person has overdosed, there is currently nothing on the market to stop opioids’ effects altogether. Now a team of researchers is hoping to change that.