The 'ultrapotent', 'zombie' drug AMB-FUBINACA has come to town

The extremely dangerous chemical was found in the substance that claimed as many 10 lives for the month of July in ...
NZ POLICE

The extremely dangerous chemical was found in the substance that claimed as many 10 lives for the month of July in Auckland alone.

It's "ultrapotent" and 85 times stronger than cannabis.

In 2015, it caused scores of people to behave like "zombies".

And now, it's killing New Zealanders - as synthetic drugs inflict a deadly grip across the country thanks to an extremely dangerous chemical. AMB-FUBINACA might sound silly, or even otherworldly, but it's the chemical inside a drug responsible for killing around 20 Kiwis nationwide this year.

A packet of the AK-47 24 Karat product recovered from a patient involved in the New York "zombie" outbreak.
AXEL ADAMS ET AL/NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE

A packet of the AK-47 24 Karat product recovered from a patient involved in the New York "zombie" outbreak.

Ten deaths over the course of July were linked to the hazardous drug in Auckland alone, triggering a number of seizures of the drug by police as well as a public warning over its dangers.

READ MORE: 
Synthetic drugs overwhelming NZ
10 deaths related to synthetic drugs in Auckland in a month
Police seizures up as synthetic drug toll mounts
Synthetic cannabis re-termed synthetic drugs

The product referred to as "synthetic cannabis" contained AMB-FUBINACA. But a renewed warning to stay away from the substance has prompted police and health authorities to call it synthetic drugs.
Synthetic cannabis seized in a drugs raid conducted by police in Avondale, Auckland.
NZ POLICE

Synthetic cannabis seized in a drugs raid conducted by police in Avondale, Auckland.

 
To put its strength into context,  researchers said it was 85 times as potent as tetrahydrocannabinol. That's THC, by the way - the psychoactive substance in cannabis.
 
In December last year,  The New York Times  carried a report about a "mass casualty event" that occurred in 2015 after scores of people suffered adverse affects from a synthetic drug containing the chemical.
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AMB-FUBINACA was also found to be present in the drugs which had killed a number of Kiwis this year, police revealed on Thursday.
 
The drug is one of the newer so-called synthetic cannabinoids. So-called, because while they affect the same part of the brain as THC, they have completely different chemical structures.

AMB-FUBINACA's full name is this: methyl 2-(1-(4-fluorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamido)- 3-methylbutanoate. It's also known as MMB-FUBINACA or FUB-AMB.

It has a structure that reflects that of a cannabinoid receptor agonist. Basically, they slow down the central nervous system - leading to the "zombie-like" state.

Other effects of similar synthetic drugs cause severe clinical features, including psychosis, delirium, seizures, acute kidney injury, hyperthermia, and death.

According to researchers, it was first identified in synthetic cannabinoid products in Japan in 2012. It was originally developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, according to the New York Times.

After the so-called "zombie" effect, which resulted in a "mass casualty event", researchers took serum, urine and blood samples from eight of those affected and ran tests which identified they'd consumed AMB-FUBINACA.

They also tested a product called AK-47 24 Karat Gold, which had been linked to the event, and found AMB-FUBINACA.

Because they have been grouped under the name synthetic cannabis, they are dangerous.

Roy Gerona, a clinical chemist at the University of California, San Francisco, told the New York Times: "There is this false idea out there that these drugs are safe, because no-one overdoses on marijuana."

New Zealand Police have re-termed synthetic cannabis to synthetic drugs for that reason.

The chemicals known as synthetic cannabinoids have evolved over the past decade. As authorities react and ban certain types, manufacturers change what's used.

Researchers wrote of AMB-FUBINACA: "[It] is an example of the emerging class of "ultrapotent" synthetic cannabinoids and poses a public health concern."

 - Stuff

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