EU to scrutinize synthetic painkillers
Powerful synthetic painkillers could be subjected to new European restrictions, the EU Commission suggested on Wednesday.
"The European Commission has proposed to subject the new psychoactive substance furanylfentanyl to control measures across the European Union," it said in a statement.
Furanylfentanyl is an analog of fentanyl which is described by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse as a strong synthetic opioid analgesic, similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent.
It is used to treat patients with severe pain or post-surgical conditions but is also open to abuse.
The EU Commission said furanylfentanyl had been detected in 16 member states and had caused 23 deaths.
Such opioids came to prominence after the 2016 death of high-profile U.S. musician Prince, who lost his life in an accidental fentanyl overdose, according to autopsy results.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The rise in the availability of new psychoactive substances remains a considerable public health challenge in Europe. It is a rapidly evolving and extremely dangerous threat able to cause serious harm and even death."
Avramopoulos said responses to the drug needed to be "equally quick and effective".