Even as the New Jersey heroin and prescription drug epidemic continues to escalate, a new drug has appeared on the scene that is being called even more dangerous than heroin.

“The drug Pink, known as U-47700 to chemists, is a synthetic opiate drug and it’s extremely concerning because this particular drug, which comes in both a powder and a pill form, is eight times the potency of heroin,” said Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey.

There have been at least 80 confirmed deaths nationwide from Pink but officials believe the actual total could be much higher. The DEA earlier this month classified it as a Schedule I substance, banning sales, though it had been legal in most states until then.

“Most of it is coming from China and it’s being ordered by the Internet ...  and what’s really concerning is it’s dirt-cheap to purchase this drug, it’s as little as $5,” said Valente.

He said the dangers posed by Pink don’t seem to be well understood.

“Many individuals, young people and adults are really misled and unfortunately in this situation if they’re experimenting with this particular drug and it could be deadly,” he said.

Valente said impossible to tell what chemicals are being used in what quantities, and whether anyone is monitoring what is happening.

“When people are ordering these drugs from these factories, there really is no way to know the controls that are in place, and also in many cases these are illicit activities,” said Valente.

He added people may also assume that because Pink is being sold on the Internet, it is legal and it’s being monitored, but that is not the case.

“The illicit drug market has a way of being able to market itself in a way that can confuse individuals and that’s a real concern we have to share with our children and friends,” said Valente.

He also stressed with this drug and others, we really need to go back and look at what’s driving the interest.

“Why are people at this point seeking out heroin, and other opiates, we need to be focusing on getting our message out to children so they don’t fall prey to this,” he said.

“We must stop this before it gets to the point where people are seeking out alternative types of drugs like Pink," he said. "I think we need to avoid at every point experimenting with these types of drugs, because we don’t know if the first time you use it could be deadly and could be the last time.”

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