Dangerous new form of fentanyl linked to dozens of deaths

SAN FRANCISCO – If fentanyl wasn’t scary enough, a new report from the chief medical examiner in San Francisco reveals that a new, deadlier form of the drug is circulating throughout the United States. Known as Fluorofentanyl, this potent form of the synthetic opioid has been found to be up to five times more powerful than medically prescribed fentanyl. It was implicated in 45 deaths within San Francisco city and county last year.

Though the drug is relatively new to the West Coast, the medical examiner’s report indicates that the East Coast has seen a higher prevalence and initial cases of Fluorofentanyl use. 

“The findings in this report are some of the first reports from California and the West Coast, and suggests a migration of novel drug use across the country, akin to fentanyl use from 2013 to 2016,” the report reads.

In addition to Fluorofentanyl, San Francisco also witnessed deaths involving a troubling new street drug called xylazine, also known as “tranq” or the “zombie drug.” Xylazine, a powerful animal tranquilizer not approved for human use, has been associated with a skyrocketing number of deaths. The CDC released new data last month showing that from January 2019 through June 2022, the percentage of deadly opioid overdoses in which xylazine was detected rose by 276%, from 2.9% to 10.9%. Emily’s Hope first reported about xylazine in March, when The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an urgent public safety alert warning of a sharp increase in the amount of fentanyl mixed with xylazine. The latest report reveals that xylazine was already involved in 15 deaths in San Francisco in 2022.

This news coincides with San Francisco grappling with an unprecedented drug crisis. The city has recorded more than 400 drug-related deaths from January to June alone, marking a potential record for its deadliest year yet.