Heroin Substitute “Pink” Banned Under Federal Law

New Easily Accessible Drug Has Already Killed Dozens

A synthetic drug known as Pink—easily purchased online and implicated in dozens of deadly overdoses—is being banned under federal law, reports NBC News.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that the opioid will be placed onto Schedule 1, a notch above cocaine, of the Controlled Substances Act for drugs with no medical use and a high risk of abuse. That puts it on the same footing as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy and paves the way for a law enforcement crackdown.

The DEA said it has confirmed 46 deaths from Pink, most of them in New York and North Carolina. Two 13-year-old Utah boys died within 48 hours of each other in Park City, Utah, after using the drug in September. A handful of states have made Pink illegal, but until the DEA scheduling takes effect, it can still be bought legally online, for as little as $5 plus shipping.

It's part of a family of synthetic opioids that are many times stronger and deadlier than heroin. Pink can be combined with heroin or other drugs or pressed into pills meant to look like traditional painkillers, meaning some users may not even know what they are taking.