WASHINGTON — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says a drug at least as dangerous as fentanyl has hit the D.C. region. It's called "iso."
That's short for isotonitazene.
DEA Intelligence Analyst Maura Gaffney said it doesn't have the same chemical composition as fentanyl, but it's at least as potent.
“It caused a lot of overdoses in the Midwest to begin with," Gaffney said. "It didn't show up here until last August. So that's about nine months ago.”
The DEA said so far they have found iso mixed in with other substances, like fentanyl, heroin, and M30 pills (like oxycodone -- an opioid.)
There's one big differentiator from fentanyl.
“There's no way for somebody who's using a test strip to know that there's something else in there," Gaffney said.
There are test strips to detect if fentanyl is in a drug you're about to use.
The DEA said those strips, however, will not detect iso, so there's no way to find out if it's mixed in before ingesting it.
“Drug traffickers do not have quality control," Gaffney said. "So, even if you've tried something from your drug trafficker before, and it was fine, and you didn't have any ill effects, the next dose could be the one that kills you.”
The DEA said they haven't heard of people specifically asking for iso -- it's getting mixed in somewhere on the production line.
They said drug distributors may not even realize it's part of what they're peddling.
The DEA does however say the substance is coming from China.
To try to combat its prevalence, the administration has already listed iso as a schedule I controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse.
It also allows for certain criminal sentences if there's any prosecution on cases involving iso.
So, the DEA's message continues to be that you should only take pills prescribed to you. Otherwise, you're playing Russian Roulette.