June 9, 2017 Radio Commentary

“Gray Death” Opioid Confirmed in Georgia

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, June 9, 2017 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

When a Georgia police officer caught up to the pick-up truck, it had stopped and the suspect was unconscious in the seat.  Immediately, the officer noticed a gray substance on the floor of the vehicle and called for help, knowing his response meant life or death for the suspect.

The officer recognized the substance as the same chemical that killed its first-known Georgia victim on February 10th this year.  Not only is it new in Georgia, it’s unlike any other natural or synthetic combination of drugs law enforcement has encountered in this state.

When the GBI identified it as highly toxic and deadly, a lab technician named it “gray death,” the term now used all over the country as an accurate description of the concoction – the latest and most deadly street drug available to addicts.  It may be in powder form or in a chunk, with ingredients that may vary from dose to dose.  Expert s described it this way: “The gray material was found to contain a toxic cocktail of opiate drugs.  The ingredients vary, but often contain heroin, two kinds of fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, and U-47700, all mixed together in the same powder.  The solid material has the appearance of gray concrete mixing powder, with texture variations from light/powdery to chunky/rock-like.” How lethal is it?  Gray death is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, and includes a tranquilizer that’s used on elephants and other large animals in China.  Realizing how dangerous it is, GBI lab technicians added several more protective items to their hazardous garb, including protective gloves, because gray death is deadly to the touch.

To emphasize the danger, an Alabama Drug Enforcement officer issued this warning:  “If you put this in your body you will die, no questions asked.  This is something that I want to be very clear about … it’s not a scare tactic … it’s not a shock factor. …if you put this drug into your body you will die, it will kill you.  There’s a reason why it’s been nicknamed Grey Death.  It is deadly.”

In addition to the four deaths and other adverse outcomes in South Georgia earlier this week, users were reported in metro Atlanta by Friday.  A forensic comparison of gray death and the yellow pill that caused this week’s havoc in Georgia should determine how they differ or whether they’re basically the same.

Thanks to our legislators who passed S.B. 121 this session, an antidote will be eminently more accessible for immediate treatment of overdoses.  For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.