Warning: 'Purple heroin' linked to overdoses has made its way into Michigan

Opioid epidemic
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(WWJ) Poison control officials are putting out a warning about a dangerous new drug that's hit the streets in Michigan.

Michigan Poison Center Director Dr. Varum Vohra says "purple heroin" -- which is coming into the state from Wisconsin -- has been blamed for four overdoses since September, including an overdose death in the Upper Peninsula.

Samples sent to the Michigan State Police Laboratory for testing have identified several components -- including fentanyl, niacinamide, acetaminophen, flualprazolam, buspirone and brorphine.

Brorphine, a new non-fentanyl synthetic opioid, was implicated in a death in Van Buren County, according to the Poison Center. It's considered a recreational drug and an alternative to fentanyl by users.

"It's something we want to keep an eye on, because these are very potent products that cause similar signs and symptoms like opioid toxicity," Vohra told WWJ Newsradio 950's Sandra McNeill.

"So if it's something that users aren't aware of when they are using these, it can definitely place them at heightened risk."

Vohra said officials at the Poison Center are not yet sure whethere the drug is colored purple once it arrives here in Michigan, or if it comes in that way

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the state is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. MDHHS says in more Michiganders died from drug overdoses than car accidents in 2018. From 1999-2018, deaths from opioid overdoses increased from 118 deaths to 2,036 deaths.

As the investigation continues, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is encouraging public health workers to look for signs and symptoms related to use of this “purple heroin.”

Although data is limited, brorphine overdoses should respond to normal naloxone dosing.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Service encourages those who use opioids to obtain naloxone (Narcan®) in Michigan at no cost by visiting https://nextdistro.org/michigan.

If you or a loved one are in need of opioid addiction treatment Michigan offers a Drug Abuse Hotline, list of treatment facilities and other resources HERE. You may also call Never Use Alone at 800-484-3731 or visit NeverUseAlone.com for help.

The Michigan Poison Center is available day or night, every day of the year. If you have questions or concerns about substance use, drug safety or any other poison related issue, please call 800-222-1222.