Growing concern for 'pink death' drug and pure fentanyl

Minneapolis police say a dangerous drug called “pink death” is still making the rounds. Officials say the potency of the drug as well as the increased circulation on the streets of pure fentanyl is concerning.

Police say the drug known as “pink,” “pink heroin” or “pink death” is essentially poison. It’s in powder or pill form. Pink came on the scene late summer, September. Dozens overdosed in just a few days using it. Authorities are seeing drug users buy it, use it and overdose in ways they’ve never seen before.

“We are finding that one and two doses of Narcan is not taking care of it,” said Minneapolis Police Public Information Officer John Elder. “We’ve had people as many as seven times for them to be able to be brought back.”

Pink is a synthetic opioid, which dealers purchase it on the internet. It’s fairly easy to get. 

“I put the word out that I wanted pink heroin, ‘I need a half a gram of pink heroin,’” said Stephanie Devich of Harm Reduction Services at Valhalla Place, a drug treatment center in Brooklyn Park. “I had it in three hours and that’s for me. So let’s say I’m an active user, I would have had it in – I don’t know – thirty minutes or less.”

Devich later tested what she got, but it turned out not to be pink, which is a mix of opioids and fentanyl. Instead the drug she received was 100 percent fentanyl. Devich says drugs being sold as heroin, meth and cocaine are often pure fentanyl.

“If we had black tar heroin, we’d actually be much less at risk,” she said. “Other states, New Mexico has black tar heroin and they’re not seeing deaths like we are.”

Devich says she anticipates more use, more overdoses, more deaths as the holidays approach. Like in years past, she and others on the front lines will do everything they can to help.

“We’ve already seen kind of just in Minneapolis based on 911 calls,” she said. “I’ve seen a bit more of an influx for overdoses just this month so far. Already coming in as well as suicides will start to increase - just kind of seasonal unfortunately.”

Devich says last year Minnesota had 700 overdose deaths. With so much fentanyl circulating, she believes there will be more this year.