Skip to main content

Furanylfentanyl: another fentanyl analogue, another hazard for public health


The fentanyls are a family of drugs that have caused hundreds of deaths in Europe and the United States. They first appeared in the United States in the late 1970s; they were sold as heroin to unsuspecting users. Furanylfentanyl is a potent synthetic drug, an analogue of fentanyl that belongs to the above family. It has no proven medical use, but it is abused throughout the world for its opioid-like effects. The drug is mainly manufactured in China and is distributed worldwide. It is used mainly intranasally, but other routes of administration have also been reported. Furanylfentanyl has been involved in many intoxication cases, fatal or not, and many seizures of the drug have been recorded. The aim of this review is to summarize all the available information on furanylfentanyl, concerning its chemistry, synthesis, prevalence, metabolism, pharmacology, and toxicology, as well as its legal status. Analytical methods for the determination of furanylfentanyl in biological specimens are presented. Intoxications and lethal cases published in the scientific literature or reported on the web are also reviewed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) New psychoactive substances. World drug campaign. Accessed 01 Feb 2017

  2. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2013) The challenge of new psychoactive substances. Global SMART Programme. Accessed 04 Feb 2017

  3. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2017) Fentanyl and its analogues—50 years on. Global Smart Update 17: 1–12. Accessed 14 Apr 2017

  4. Gergov M, Nokua E, Vuori E, Ojanperä I (2009) Simultaneous screening and quantification of 25 opioid drugs in post-mortem blood and urine by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Forensic Sci Int 186:36–43

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Helander A, Backberg M, Beck O (2016) Intoxications involving the fentanyl analogs acetylfentanyl, 4-methxybutyrfetnanyl and furanylfentanyl: results from the Swedish STRIDA project. Clin Toxicol 28:1–9

    Google Scholar 

  6. Mohr ALA, Friscia M, Papsun D, Kacinko SL, Buzby D, Logan BK (2016) Analysis of novel synthetic opioids U-47700, U-50488 and furanyl fentanyl by LC–MS/MS in postmortem casework. J Anal Toxicol 40:709–717

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Klar SA, Brodkin E, Gibson E, Padhi S, Predy C, Green C, Lee V (2016) Furanyl-fentanyl overdose events caused by smoking contaminated crack cocaine—British Columbia. Canada, July 15–18, 2016. Health Promot Chronic Dis Prev Can 36:200–201

    Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  8. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Department of Justice (2016) Schedules of controlled substances: temporary placement of furanyl fentanyl into schedule I. Fed Regist 81:66224–66227

    Google Scholar 

  9. Guerrieri D, Rapp E, Roman M, Druid H, Kronstrand R (2017) Postmortem and toxicological findings in a series of furanylfentanyl-related deaths. J Anal Toxicol 41:242–249

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. North Carolina Health News (2016) Potent opioid causing overdose deaths in NC. Accessed 27 Dec 2016

  11. Hernandez SL (2017) Connecticut medical examiner warns of dangerous designer drug: furanylfentanyl. New Haven Register Health, January 01, 2017. Accessed 03 Jan 2017

  12. Huang BS, Terrell RC, Deutsche KH, Kudzma LV, Lalinde NL (1986) N-Aryl-N-(4-piperidinyl) amides and pharmaceutical compositions and method employing such compounds. Patent US4584303, Part of US application Ser. No. 598,769 filed Apr 9, 1984

  13. Bagley JR, Wynn RL, Rudo FG, Doorley BM, Spenser HK, Spaulding T (1989) New 4-(heteroanilido)piperidines, structurally related to the pure opioid agonist fentanyl, with agonist and/or antagonist properties. J Med Chem 32:663–671

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. TripSit, Factsheets Beta (2016) Furanylfentanyl. Accessed 20 Dec 2016

  15. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (2016) Emergency threat report, fourth quarter 2016. Accessed 14 Apr 2017

  16. Cossette MA (2016) Man charged after RCMP seize furanylfentanyl from Orléans home. CBC News, Ottawa. Accessed 13 Apr 2017

  17. Julie A (2016) Tablets containing furanylfentanyl found on Calgary streets. News Talk 770, Dec 12, 2016. Accessed 13 Apr 2017

  18. Aliens C (2017) Furanylfentanyl vendor duo arrested in Norway. Accessed 13 Apr 2017

  19. Banks K (2016) Synthetic opioid drug furanylfentanyl seized in Darwin for first time. NT News. Accessed 13 Apr 2017

  20. Wikipedia (2016) Furanylfentanyl. Accessed 02 Nov 2016

  21. Pubchem (2016) Furanylfentanil. Accessed 02 Nov 2016

  22. Cayman Chemical (2016) Furanylfentanyl (hydrochloride), Safety data sheet, revision: 02/09/2016. Accessed 08 Feb 2017

  23. (2017) Furanyl fentanyl parent letter. Accessed 07 Apr 2017

  24. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (2016) Scientific Working Group for the analysis of seized materials (SWGDRUG). Furanyl fentanyl. Accessed 02 Nov 2016

  25. Erowid (2017) Synthesis of fentanyl by Siegfried. Accessed 15 Apr 2017

  26. Armstrong D (2016) Chinese labs modify deadly fentanyl to circumvent ban on sales to US. Accessed 10 Apr 2017

  27. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (2016) Counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyls: a global threat. DEA-DCT-DIB-021-16, July 2016. Accessed 10 Apr 2017

  28. WLWT5 (2017) Fentanyl, designer drugs shipped from China seized in Cincinnati. Accessed 14 Apr 2017

  29. DeMio T (2017) Huge drug shipment intercepted in Cincinnati. Accessed 14 Apr 2017

  30. State of New Hampshire Department of Safety, J.J. Barthelmes, Commissioner (2016) CLINICAL BULLETIN. Accessed 07 Apr 2017

  31. Sanchick M (2017) “Dangerous substance:” 10 recent deaths in Milwaukee County attributed to furanyl fentanyl. Accessed 10 Apr 2017

  32. Will Country Illinois (2017) 2016 Accidental overdoses. Updated 27.2.2017. Accessed 10 Apr 2017

  33. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Ohio (2017) Highland Heights man indicted for selling furanyl fentanyl that resulted in fatal overdose of Cleveland teen. Accessed 14 Apr 2017

  34. Marrazzo A (2017) New form of synthetic heroin showing up in Chicago-area deaths. McHenry County, Chicago Tribune. Accessed 23 Apr 2017

  35. Daily Herald (2016) Chicago area sees rise in overdose deaths linked to fentanyl. Accessed 23 Apr 2017

  36. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office (2017) Thirty-four defendants charged with operating, sprawling narcotics distribution ring that sold furanyl fentanyl, heroin and cocaine. Accessed 10 Apr 2017

  37. Welland Tribune, News Local (2017) Furanyl-fentanyl powder investigation leads to Welland arrest. Accessed 13 Apr 2017

  38. The State of New Jersey, Department of Law and Public Safety, Office of the Attorney General (2017) Alleged drug dealers indicated on first-degree conspiracy and money laundering charges in seizure of furanyl fentanyl and $ 732,000 cash. Accessed 14 Apr 2017

  39. CNW (2016) London male charged with importing furanyl-fentanyl. Accessed 14 Apr 2017

  40. Grand Forks Herald (2017) Furanyl fentanyl. Accessed 13 Apr 2017

  41. Hill C (2017) Furanyl fentanyl drug bust. Accessed 13 Apr 2017

  42. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) Europol 2015: annual report on the implementation of council decision 2005/387/JHA, ISSN 1977-7841. doi: 10.2810/932574

  43. Czech Republic Government, JUSTIFICATION, General Part (2016) Explanation of the need for the draft legislation, justification of its main principles, assessment of the current legal situation, and justification of the need to change it. IND- 2016 0565 CZ- EN- 20161102 IMPACT

  44. Helander A, Backberg M, Signell P, Beck O (2017) Intoxications involving acrylfentanyl and other novel designer fentanyls—results from the Swedish STRIDA project. Clin Toxicol 55:589–599

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (2016) (U) Fentanyl: a complex and expanding threat in the United States. DEA-DCT-BUL-016-17, October 2016. Accessed 10 Apr 2017

  46. Drugs-Forum (2016) Creating a fu-F (fent analog) nasal spray. Accessed 15 Nov 2016

  47. Amistadi B (2016) Furanyl fentanyl used by West Fargo students. Accessed 15 Nov 2016

  48. Bluelight (2016) Furanyl-fentanyl guide question for newbie. Accessed 14 Apr 2017

  49. Reddit (2016) furanylfentanyl differences: water soluble or alcohol? 15 Nov 2016

  50. Bluelight (2016) Furanyl-fentanyl powder-what to do. Accessed 23 Apr 2017

  51. Plant Feed Shop (2016) Furanylfentanyl new opioid, similar to morphine. Accessed 23 Apr 2017

  52. Dialogue Space (2016) Suboxone and furanyl fentanyl. Accessed 23 Apr 2017

  53. Goggin MM, Nguyen A, Janis GC (2017) Identification of unique metabolites of the designer opioid furanyl fentanyl. J Anal Toxicol 41:367–375

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. Watanabe S, Vikingsson S, Roman M, Green H, Kronstrand R, Wohlfarth A (2017) In vitro and in vivo metabolite identification studies for the new synthetic opioids acetylfentanyl, acrylfentanyl, furanylfentanyl, and 4-fluoro-isobutyrylfentanyl. AAPS J. doi:10.1208/s12248-017-0070-z

    Google Scholar 

  55. Erowid (2016) Extinguishing the light within furanylfentanyl. Accessed 15 Nov 2016

  56. State of Hawaii, Department of Public Safety (2017) Report to the 2017 legislature, Section 329-11, Hawaii revise statutes, 2016 annual report, Narcotics Enforcement Division, December 2016. Accessed 10 Apr 2017

  57. Henderson GL, Harkey MR, Jones AD (1990) Rapid screening of fentanyl (China White) powder samples by solid-phase radioimmunoassay. J Anal Toxicol 14:172–175

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  58. Ruangyuttikarn W, Law MY, Rollins DE, Moody DE (1990) Detection of fentanyl and its analogs by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. J Anal Toxicol 14:160–164

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  59. Lucyk SN, Nelson LS (2016) Novel synthetic opioids: an opioid epidemic within an opioid epidemic. Ann Emerg Med 69:91–93

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  60. Al-Saffar Y, Stephanson NN, Beck O (2013) Multicomponent LC–MS/MS screening method for detection of new psychoactive drugs, legal highs, in urine-experience from the Swedish population. J Chromatogr B 930:112–120

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. International Quality Assurance Programme-International Collaborative Exercises (2017) March 2017–China: carfentanil, furanylfentanyl, acrylfentanyl and valerylfentanyl placed under national control. Accessed 10 Apr 2017

  62. Office of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania (2014) Register of legal acts. Accessed 09 May 2017

  63. The Public Health Agency of Sweden (2015) 31 nya substanser klassas som narkotika eller hälsofarlig vara (in Swedish). Accessed 03 Jan 2017

  64. Finnish Goverment (2016) Twelve new substances to be listed as narcotics. Accessed 06 May 2017

  65. Danish Medicines Agency (2016) Twelve new substances on the list of euphoriant substances. Accessed 09 May 2017

  66. Wolters Kluwer (2017) 52/2014. (XII. 30.) EMMI rendelet az új pszichoaktív anyaggá minősített anyagokról vagy vegyületcsoportokról. Accessed 06 May 2017

  67. Republike Slovenije (2017) Uradni list. Accessed 06 May 2017

  68. Bundeshanzlerant Österreich (2011) Accessed 06 May 2017

  69. Republic of Latvia (2005) Regulations regarding narcotic substances, psychotropic substances and precursors to be controlled in Latvia. Cabinet, Regulation No 847, Adopted 8 November 2005. Accessed 28 Apr 2017

  70. Polish Government (2011) file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/Act%20amending%20the%20Act%20on%20counteracting%20drug%20addiction%20and%20the%20Act%20on%20State%20Sanitary%20Inspection.pdf. Accessed 08 May 2017

  71. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) (2016) 45th Scientific Committee Meeting. Accessed 10–11 Nov 2016

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Panagiota Nikolaou.

Ethics declarations

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.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Misailidi, N., Papoutsis, I., Nikolaou, P. et al. Furanylfentanyl: another fentanyl analogue, another hazard for public health. Forensic Toxicol 36, 1–11 (2018).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Furanylfentanyl
  • New psychoactive substance
  • Synthetic opioid
  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology
  • Legal status