13-year-old fatally overdose purchasing synthetic opioid pink online
Courtesy of Park City Police Department. The synthetic research drug U-47700 commonly is known as "pink" or "pinky."

Last September, two 13-year-old boys were found dead in their respective homes in Park City Utah for no apparent reason.

Shortly after, a spokeswoman for the Park City School District said that the deaths were “two concurrent issues” with “no connection… at this point.”  

Ryan Ainsworth and Grant Seaver were best friends and went to the same school – Treasure Mountain Junior High School. Seaver died on September 11 and Ainsworth died two days later.

Park City Police suspected the deaths were due to acute intoxication and requested toxicology examinations. And on November 3, the Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter released the following statement:

“The Park City Police Department has received the results of the toxicology exams on the two juveniles who were found deceased in September, 2016. The Utah Medical Examiner’s Office has determined the cause of death for both 13-year-old boys, Ryan Ainsworth and Grant Seaver, to be acute drug intoxication of U-47700, the synthetic opioid known as ‘pink.’”

The highly addictive drug is not called pink (or “pinky”) because of its color, but because people can fit a deadly dose of it on tip of their pinky. In fact, by simply touching the drug, a person can go into cardiac arrest.  

U-47700 was initially developed in the 70s by pharmaceutical company Upjohn as a possible substitute to morphine. Now the substance is mostly manufactured by chemists in foreign labs, who have access to recipes found in online patent records.

The toxic drug has been reported to be eight times stronger than both heroin and morphine and has killed more than 50 people in the U.S.  It is typically a powder but can also be found in liquid form. It can be snorted, injected or taken orally.

Photo Credit: Park City Police Department; Captain Phil Kirk of the Park City Police Department

“Our first experience dealing with this particular drug was back in September,” said Captain Phil Kirk of the Park City Police Department. “We’re still trying to figure out how prevalent the drug is in our community, but there’s a group of young people who have been associated with the boys that died and we feel have been experimenting with it or at least discussing that among their group.”

Park City Police said Ainsworth and Seaver fatally overdosed after purchasing the drug legally from Shanghai, China. Some foreign suppliers have made the drug available for as little as $40 per gram.

“It’s a very serious problem for us here in Park City, Utah,” Kirk said. “The most important thing people need to know is… (continue reading)