A Dundee drugs worker has warned that a highly potent opiate which is up to 100 times as strong as heroin could lead to overdoses in the city.
At least 60 drugs deaths in the UK in the past eight months have been linked to fentanyl, an opioid which is being mixed with street heroin, according to the National Crime Agency.
Dave Barrie, service manager at the charity Addaction, said a rise in detections of the drug in the UK was “a massive worry”.
He said: “In some areas of the USA it has led to an increase in fatal overdoses by 100%.
“There are reports of fentanyl in different parts of England and that is something we are taking seriously as it could easily spread north of the border.
“We are being extremely vigilant because this drug can be 50 to 100 times more powerful than street heroin — it’s very, very dangerous stuff.”
Dave said the organisation would continue to monitor the situation.
He added: “A pinhead amount is enough to kill you.
“It’s very difficult to judge how strong these drugs are as well which really increases the risks massively as people will have no idea of their tolerance.
“What might happen is people will be told there is a really strong batch of heroin in Dundee and that network of users will pass that information on quite quickly.
“But this is a different drug and if you have a low tolerance you could die of an overdose easily. There’s a drug similar to it and it is used to tranquillise elephants. If human beings are putting that into their bodies, it’s really dangerous.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said the force was “aware of the potential threat” of the drug and would work to minimise its sale and use.
She added: “To date fentanyl has not proved to be a widespread concern in Scotland, however, emerging drug trends are constantly monitored and we will act proportionately to any increase in the prevalence or circulation of fentanyl and its analogues in Scotland.
“Officers within Police Scotland have been briefed as to the potential dangers posed and all steps are taken to protect our officers, staff and members of the public in circumstances where fentanyl is suspected of being present.”
For information on drugs services in Dundee, call Addaction on 01382 206 888.