Utah officials decry the dangers of new “rainbow” fentanyl

Oct 14, 2022, 3:29 PM | Updated: 4:18 pm
rainbow fentanyl...
Friday, Oct. 14, 2022: Salt Lake City Police Lt. Sam Wolf speaks as he joins Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera, Unified Fire Authority Medical Director Dr. Graham Brant-Zawadzki and Chris Lovell, a recovering addict, at a press conference at Unified Fire Authority Station 104 in Holladay discussing the dangers of fentanyl. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The synthetic opioid, fentanyl, is dangerous enough, Utah safety officials said at a press conference today. But, with the increasing trend of fake fentanyl pills and the addition of color to create the new “rainbow fentanyl,” officials are concerned that the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States could become worse.

“The narcotics landscape is constantly changing, and current trends lead us to believe that the opioid crisis will grow,” said Salt Lake City Police Department’s Lt. Sam Wolf, leader of the Salt Lake Valley DEA Task Force.

“Fake pills are impossible to differentiate from authentic pills and just two milligrams of fentanyl is a potentially lethal dose.”

From legitimate use to addiction

Fentanyl is actually a legal drug, used to treat patients with severe pain according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Patients who are tolerant of other opioids also use fentanyl. 

The problem is that it can be made in clandestine labs and is sold in many different forms, including a powder that is added to other pills or mixed with other drugs.

And that’s one of the biggest problems with fentanyl — that the person buying the drug really has no idea how much of the fake stuff they are taking. Or, selling.

This drug is 50 times more potent than heroin. And it is 100 times more potent than morphine, according to Salt Lake City Police. One of the new tricks is adding colors, which could be enticing to children and younger adults.

Already this year in Utah, law enforcement has seized more than half a million of these pills.

“Our intention is not to alarm people, but to inform the public of the evolving threat that fentanyl poses to our community and to urge caution,” said Unified Fire Authority Medical Director, Dr. Graham Brant-Zawadzki.

“If someone in your home uses opioids of any kind it is important to keep naloxone on hand to reverse an overdose,” he said.

Chris Lovell says Naloxone saved his life. “My addiction started with a prescription. I overdosed three times on fentanyl-laced drugs. Naloxone saved my life each
time,” he said.

Naloxone treats a fentanyl overdose by rapidly blocking the effects of opioid drugs.

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Utah officials decry the dangers of new “rainbow” fentanyl