Governor bans nine types of synthetic opioids connected to increasing overdoses

Banned ‘nitazenes’ are stronger than fentanyl, state says



Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently banned the sale and use of nine synthetic opioids, compounds called nitazenes that are stronger than fentanyl, in the state.

Theses man-made opioids were never approved for medical use and have been increasingly found in illegal drugs throughout the state, according to the governor’s office.

DeWine on Tuesday signed an executive order authorizing the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to classify those nine synthetic opioids as schedule I controlled substances, effectively banning their sale and use in the state.

“These are extremely dangerous substances being designed by clandestine chemists in an attempt to skirt the law while keeping them highly addictive,” DeWine said.

These nine synthetic opioids known as nitazenes were initially developed decades ago as potential alternatives for morphine, but they never got approved to be used medically, the state said.

New nitazene compounds are increasingly being found in the illicit drug supply in Ohio, according to the governor’s office. An early detection process developed by the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center, in partnership with multiple agencies, led to this discovery.

“My administration is doing everything in our power to rapidly detect and schedule these types of compounds to ensure that law enforcement has the tools they need to prosecute those who make and sell these potentially lethal substances to the fullest extent of the law,” DeWine said.

The compounds are often more potent than other schedule I opioids like heroin or fentanyl, which presents an elevated risk of negative outcomes caused by unintentional drug poisonings, including death.

The early detection process through the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center includes collecting reports from Ohio’s criminal justice system and forensic labs, allowing the center to identify, analyze and triage information on emerging drugs that are not controlled substances.

Each of these nine nitazene compounds have been identified by Ohio crime labs, confirming their presence in the state. The compounds are frequently mixed with other controlled substances, like other opioids or stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine, the state said.

Nitazene compounds are becoming increasingly involved in overdose deaths in Ohio, the state said.

There were only three overdose deaths involving nitazene compounds in 2020, according to the Ohio Department of Health, but a significant jump occurred in 2021 and 2022. Those two years saw an average of 57 such deaths per year.

Although 2023 data is not yet complete, the state has recorded 77 nitazene-involved overdose deaths for the year, representing only confirmed cases. Due to under reporting, the state expects the true number of overdose deaths involving nitazene compounds is higher.

These nitazene compounds are the latest to be banned under DeWine. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has now banned a total of 17 nitazene compounds since 2020.

Last year, DeWine signed an executive order to classify xylazine as a schedule III controlled substance. Ohio was one of the first states in the nation to schedule xylazine as a controlled substance drug.

If you believe you or someone else is in immediate danger of a drug overdose, call 911 immediately.

Like other synthetic opioids, overdoses involving nitazene compounds can be reversed using naloxone.

Naloxone should always be administered anytime an overdose is suspected, even if the overdose is believed to be caused by nitazenes. Multiple doses of naloxone may be needed to reverse an overdose involving synthetic opioids.

For more information about obtaining free naloxone, visit:

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