SALT LAKE CITY — Utah authorities are warning about the increasing presence and potency of so-called “designer drugs” that mix several compounds into one pill, a dangerous trend that led to the death of two Park City teenagers and nearly killed another teen.

Drugs such as “pink,” which killed the two teenagers, and other synthetic opioids fit under an overarching trend of “designer drugs.” After the teens’ deaths, the DEA classified pink as a Schedule 1 Drug, which means it has no “currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/2pp8IgF).

Authorities held a press conference Wednesday to deliver their warning.

Officials are working to determine the compounds being created and sold, Utah Crime Lab Director Jay Henry said.

One pill can contain multiple compounds, such as methamphetamine and Fentanyl. Officials said some of the compounds have the potential to be 100 times more potent than morphine, the Deseret News reported (http://bit.ly/2r167WD ) .

Analysts have identified 70 to 80 new street drug compounds since 2010, Henry said. Some are filled with “really nasty stuff” and disguised to look like legitimate pharmaceuticals, he said.

If officials can classify more “designer drugs” as scheduled, it might drop the drugs’ street sales, Henry said.

When a compound is identified, the crime lab submits an analysis to the Controlled Substance Advisory Committee, which decides whether to schedule it, pending a vote in the Utah Legislature, Henry said.

The sale of that drug then tends to drop off, creating relatively quick spikes of dealers moving on from one substance to the next, Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Todd Royce said.

Officers say they hardly see “spice” — a synthetic compound that was added to the list of banned substances in 2011 — anymore, ever since it was added to the scheduled-drugs list, Royce said.

“We used to see it everywhere,” he said. “‘Bath salts’ was the same thing. As soon as it was scheduled, it dropped off.”

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.