Opioid addiction and dependence are on the rise in the United States. From heroin to prescription opioid drugs, people of all ages are finding themselves trapped in a cycle of addiction, dependence and opioid withdrawal. The next wave of tragedy in the opioid epidemic looks to involve new, synthetic opioid drugs. The rise in the sale of drugs on the internet and more clever methods of disguising packaging has allowed a new generation of dangerous drugs onto the streets. One of these synthetic opioids, technically named U-47700, but known by the street name pink, has already claimed many lives.

What is Pink?

Pink, technically known as U-47700, is an extremely potent, highly dangerous synthetic opioid drug. It was originally developed in the 1970s by the pharmaceutical company Upjohn. It was never intended for public use, and instead, was meant for research and has never been studied in humans.

Beginning in 2015, reports started to surface of opioid overdoses and prevalence of the drug on the street in Asia, Europe and the United States, going by the street names “pink,” “pinky” or “U4.” It comes in powder or tablet form and is light pink in color. This new opioid drug is several times more powerful than morphine and is often confused with heroin or other opioid drugs, leading to accidental overdose.

Effects and Dangers of Using Pink

One of the primary dangers of using pink is that there is no way of knowing exactly what is in the drug or the potency. The new opioid drug is often sold online, under various names, disguised in many different forms of packaging. When it is sold on the street, it can be made to mimic heroin. Pink can even be made to resemble pills that seem identical to other prescription opioids. All of these deceptive delivery methods add an even greater danger to the drug. Many people abusing drugs are taking pink and don’t even know it.

People taking pink will experience euphoric effects similar to those of other opioid drugs. It has the same addiction-forming properties as other opioids and carries the same, if not greater, risk of overdose that is fatal in many cases. Pink’s overdose symptoms tend to be the same as with other opioids and can include respiratory depression, nausea, coma and death are all possible outcomes of a pink overdose.

After 46 deaths were linked to U-47700 in 2015 and 2016, the DEA classified the drug as a Schedule I controlled substance. The Schedule I category indicates that a drug has “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse,” according to the DEA.

Getting Treatment

If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction, getting professional treatment is your best option for getting back to a healthy life, free from dependence. The opioid addiction treatment process usually starts with an assessment where the extent of the addiction is determined and a comprehensive care plan is put into place. When opioids are involved, inpatient detoxification is typically the first step in the process. Patients are given drug replacement therapy so that they can be comfortably eased off of opioid drugs in a safe, controlled environment. After detox, rehabilitation steps include inpatient or outpatient counseling and therapies which are designed to address the mental and emotional aspects of drug addiction and substance abuse.

Camille Renzoni
Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
Jessica Pyhtila
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.