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Acrylfentanyl: Another new psychoactive drug with fatal consequences

Guerrieri, Davide, Rapp, Emma, Roman, Markus, Thelander, Gunilla, Kronstrand, Robert
Forensic science international 2017 v.277 pp. e21
blood, chemical elements, death, females, illicit drugs, males, markets, nose, poisoning, psychotropic agents, Scandinavia, Sweden
The European Nordic Countries are the most exposed to opioid-related deaths. Between April and October 2016, a series of forty lethal intoxications occurred in Sweden, in which the presence of the synthetic opioid acrylfentanyl was determined to be the main – or a contributing – cause of death. In the reported cases, the blood concentration of acrylfentanyl – mostly detected in combination with other drugs – ranged from 0.01ng/g to 5ng/g; victims were predominantly males (34 males and 6 females), and their age varied between 18 and 53 years. We further describe five cases, representative of the different drug administration route (nasal spray, tablets) and intentions (accidental or voluntary intoxication). Moreover, we address nine cases of non-lethal intoxication, in single (8 cases) or polydrug scenario (1 case). We discuss the present characteristics of the Swedish drug market for fentanyl-analogs in general and acrylfentanyl in particular, reporting a structural difficulty to effectively counteracting the appearance of unscheduled substances due to the constant turnover of new molecules on the recreational drug market.