As Drug Testing Kits UK, is well aware: "The synthetic opioid fentanyl, is well known for the many lives it has claimed – mainly in the US, but elsewhere too. Now, a less well-known class of synthetic opioids called Nitazenes, is starting to crop up in overdose cases on both sides of the Atlantic. Nitazenes have recently been the subject of a national patient safety alert in the UK, as a result of a spike in opioid-related deaths over the last two months, with several cases involving Nitazenes" [1], and due to the effect it can have on staff in the workplace, employers should include it in their drug screening programs

Did You Know?

Some drugs in the nitazene class, are a whopping hundred times more potent than morphine – so this means that nitazenes are just as potent as fentanyl. Moreover, nitazenes could be even more deadly [1].

Avoiding Deadly Situations in the Workplace

A study, published in Jama, noted that users who overdosed on nitazenes, normally needed two or more doses of naloxone (the overdose-reversing drug), whereas users who overdosed on fentanyl, typically only needed one dose. But such remedial procedures have to be done in a timely manner, and from an employers' perspective, they do not want any such incidents occurring in the workplace, particularly with the current situation with ambulances sometimes taking hours to arrive.

Background of the Illegal Drug Group, Nitazenes

Long ago in the 1950s, nitazenes (an innovative type of potent painkiller (analgesic), were initially formulated by a Swiss company, named Ciba Pharmaceuticals. However, these particular pharmaceuticals, never made it onto the market. Yet, it seems that chemists in clandestine laboratories, have pored over old research papers searching for new synthetic opioids to produce, and hence, they came across this class of deadly drugs. These highly dangerous, new synthetic opioids, are illegal in the Britain, and are covered under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, which prohibits all chemical compounds which can generate a psychoactive effect in users [1].

When people think about psychoactive impacts, marijuana usually comes to mind. However, as you can see from all the professionally written articles in Drug Testing Kit UK's Blog and News section, there are are many many more. And this is why our Drug Testing Kit UK's Science Advisor, recommends that your company, organisation, institution, or educational or medical facility, regularly screens your employees in the workplace, using the latest non-invasive, highly accurate, state-of-the-art drug testing kits, which screen for multiple drugs simultaneously. The number of drugs that are screened using the best-selling, CE-approved, rapid result, Drug Testing Kit UK's Saliva (Oral Fluid), or Urine testing Kits, range form 6 to 13. Moreover, some of the illegal drug tests, include alcohol screening, making them even more economic, especially if they are ordered in bulk cases of 20, 50, or 100 tests.

So How Do Nitazenes Actually Work?

Opioids (which are a broad group of medicines used to relieve pain), act on mu-opioid receptors (sites in the brain, and elsewhere in the body). Once activated with high doses of opioids, these brain receptors evoke strong euphoric feelings of euphoria, followed by unrelenting drowsiness. [A scenario which is clearly very hazardous in the workplace, or on a building site, and in manufacturing and transportation industries, etc.] "Morphine, heroin and fentanyl, all activate these mu-opioid receptors. However, fentanyl can do so at much lower doses than morphine or heroin – and some nitazenes can relieve pain at even lower doses than fentanyl. A study in rats found that a nitazene (N-desethyl isotonitazene), provided pain relief at a dose nearly 10 times smaller than that needed for fentanyl, and around 1,400 times less than that for morphine, to produce the same effect" [1]

What Happens When Employees Take Opioids?

When people take opioids, not only do they quell pain, and dramatically rev up feelings of euphoria; they also oppress the respiratory system. - The latter meaning that the user's breathing capacity is reduced (and hence, the common cause of death through opioid overdose).

N-desethyl isotonitazene generates apnea (a condition in which breathing stops), by using just a third of the dose of fentanyl. Moreover, it takes far longer to resume normal breathing after taking N-desethyl isotonitazene (208 minutes), as opposed to fentanyl (67 minutes). To that end, it can be assumed that a number of different nitazenes have the potential capacity to be more deadly than both heroin and fentanyl [1].

Furthermore, as Drug Testing Kits UK, are very mindful of, and frequently explain to our countless thousands of clients across the length and breath of the UK and Southern Ireland: "there are also issues with nitazenes being used as adulterants in other illicit drugs, such as cocaine, benzodiazepines and synthetic cannabinoids ('spice')" [1], all of which are screened for with Drug Testing Kits UK's leading-edge on-site drug tests. - These are super simple to use, and can easily be administered by a responsible, dedicated member of staff, who has had some former practice administering the tests on a few people.

Illegal drug takers could be taking opioids unknowingly, and to that end, must be made aware of the fatal risk of respiratory depression. However, they are not. Recently, a number of nitazenes have been found in overdose cases, and the number of new emerging street drugs in this class (referred to as analogs), seems to be escalating. Yet, the precise level of this drug’s penetration into the illegal drug market, is not fully realised, as many testing facilities have not yet been equipped to test for nitazenes [1]

More Compelling Reasons to Conduct On-Site Drug Testing

Unfortunately, at the present time, there are new illegal drug, non-nitazene synthetic opioids appearing on the streets. These include brorphine-like compounds. As with nitazenes, laboratory tests have indicated that these drugs are slightly more potent than fentanyl, and far more potent than morphine or heroine [1]. This is the time for employers to take urgent preventative action. Please contact our Drug Testing Kits UK's Winning CX Team, to see how we can help you!




[1]. Davidson, C. (2023). "Nitazenes: synthetic opioids more deadly than fentanyl are starting to turn up in overdose cases."