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Forensic Toxicology

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 201–212 | Cite as

Old opioids, new concerns: the case of acetylfentanyl

  • Maria Katselou
  • Ioannis Papoutsis
  • Panagiota Nikolaou
  • Chara Spiliopoulou
  • Sotiris Athanaselis
Review Article

Abstract

Acetylfentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid analgesic that has been increasingly available in America, Europe, Japan, China, and Australia during the last years. It has no approved medical or veterinary use, but it is used illicitly around the world as a substitute of its controlled precursor, fentanyl, as well as of heroin or other related substances in opioid dependent individuals. It is available in retail or “head shops” or over the Internet by companies based mainly in China. Acetylfentanyl is available in the form of powder, tablets, and blotters, while liquid and injectable formulations have been also reported. Acetylfentanyl seizures have dramatically increased during the last 4 years, and its abuse has already caused a number of deaths in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Japan, thus leading to its scheduling under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in the United States, and some European Countries, China, and Japan since 2015. The aim of this review is to summarize the current knowledge about this drug concerning its chemistry, synthesis, prevalence, metabolism, pharmacology, and toxicology, as well as its legal status. Analytical methodologies developed for the determination of acetylfentanyl in biological specimens, as well as published or reported acetylfentanyl related cases, fatal or not, and self reports from drug users are presented.

Keywords

Acetylfentanyl μ-Opioid receptor agonist Analytical methods Prevalence Legislation 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no financial or other relations that could lead to a conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Copyright information

© Japanese Association of Forensic Toxicology and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Katselou
    • 1
  • Ioannis Papoutsis
    • 1
  • Panagiota Nikolaou
    • 1
  • Chara Spiliopoulou
    • 1
  • Sotiris Athanaselis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Faculty of MedicineNational and Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece

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