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New drug called ‘purple heroin’ claims life in Jefferson Parish, authorities say | Crime/Police

Louisiana officials have reported the state’s first death linked to a new drug called “purple heroin.”

The death was in Jefferson Parish, authorities said Thursday morning. They didn’t release any more information about who died or what happened.

About 30 deaths linked to purple heroin have been reported in the U.S., including in Michigan, Arizona and Minnesota, according to Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich. 

Purple heroin consists of fentanyl, acetaminophen, which is used to treat pain and fevers, and a new drug called brorphine, among other substances.

Brorphine is a synthetic opioid, which Cvitanovich said is “just as potent and dangerous as fentanyl, making it up to 100X more potent than morphine.”

“This drug has the potential to cause widespread harm and is of public health concern,” Cvitanovich said. “The public should be on full alert due to the extreme danger of this drug.”

Purple heroin is commonly packaged as a purple crystal or powder, but has also been seen as a gray or white powder, Cvitanovich said.

Brorphine was first cited in a scientific report in 2018, according to information from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. And the Michigan State Police discovered the drug in May, Michigan officials said.

It wasn’t immediately clear when Louisiana officials began tracking it.

Brorphine is not authorized for any medical uses nor easily discernable in normal hospital blood tests, according to Varun Vohra, a director of the Michigan Poison Center at Wayne State University in Michigan.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Carlie Kollath Wells is a morning reporter at NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.

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