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Acetylfentanyl structure.png
Systematic (IUPAC) name
Clinical data
Legal status
Routes oral, iv, im, insuflation
CAS number 3258-84-2
ATC code None
PubChem CID 527015
ChemSpider 459388
Synonyms Acetyl fentanyl
Chemical data
Formula C21H26N2O 
Mol. mass 322.44 g/mol

Acetylfentanyl (acetyl fentanyl) is an opioid analgesic drug that is an analog of fentanyl. Studies have estimated acetylfentanyl is between five to fifteen times more potent than heroin.[3] Additionally it is reported as being 80 times more potent than morphine, and 15 times less potent than fentanyl.[4] It has never been licensed for medical use and has only been sold illegally as a designer drug. Acetylfentanyl was discovered at the same time as fentanyl itself and had rarely been encountered on the illicit market in the late 1980s, but was never commonly used. However in 2013, Canadian police discovered a group distributing over 3 kilograms and 12,400 pills of desmethyl fentanyl equal to 117,400 doses.[5] As a μ-opioid receptor agonist, acetylfentanyl may serve as a direct substitute for heroin or other μ-opioid receptor agonist substances in opioid dependent individuals. Side effects include itching, nausea, and respiratory depression, which can be potentially life-threatening.[6][7][8]


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health alert to report that between March 2013 and May 2013, 14 overdose deaths related to injected acetylfentanyl had occurred among intravenous drug users (ages between 19 and 57 years) in Rhode Island. After confirming five overdoses in one county, including a fatality, Pennsylvania asked coroners and medical examiners across the state to screen for acetylfentanyl. This request led to 50 confirmed fatalities and five non-fatal overdoses statewide in 2013.[9][10] Another 5 deaths were reported in Jefferson Parish, New Orleans,[11] along with three more in North Carolina.[12]

Legal status[edit]


It is a Schedule 1 drug.[1] As it is an analog of fentanyl[13] and all fentanyl analogs are Schedule 1.

United States[edit]

The drug is currently operating in a legal grey area. As an analog of fentanyl, selling acetlyfentanyl intentionally for human consumption is prosecutable by the United States Department of Justice as a DEA Schedule I controlled substance.[2] However, as the drug itself is not classified on the DEA's schedule list[14] if the drug is labelled "not for human consumption" it may be legal to distribute, much like bath salts have been in the past.[3]

The illegality of the drug has been supported by the charges against individuals for distribution of acetylfentanyl and possession with the intent to distribute acetylfentanyl.[2] The individual was sentenced to 3 years in prison by a federal court.[15]


Overdoses on Acetyl Fentanyl have been reported to look exceedingly similar to those of heroin and may not be detected unless using gas chromatography.[3] Additionally, while naloxone (Narcan) is effective in treating Acetyl Fentanyl overdose, larger than normal quantities may need to be administered in order for someone to recover from an overdose.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Controlled Drugs and Substances Act". IsomerDesign. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Neronha, Peter F. "Two Charged With Witness Tampering in Joint Woonsocket Police, DEA Investigation". The United States Attorney's Office: District of Rhode Island. US Department of Justice. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Higashikawa, Yoshiyasu (2008-06-01). "Studies on 1-(2-phenethyl)-4-(N-propionylanilino) piperidine (fentanyl) and its related compounds: structure-analgesic activity relationship for fentanyl, methyl-substituted fentanyls and other analogues". Forensic Toxicology 26 (1): 1–5. doi:10.1007/s11419-007-0039-1. ISSN 1860-8973. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  4. ^ P. A. J. Janssen and C. A. M. van der Eycken in Drugs Affecting the Central Nervous System, Vol. 2, A. Burger, Ed., Marcel Dekker, New York, 1968, pp. 51-54.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Ruangyuttikarn, W; Law, MY; Rollins, DE; Moody, DE (1990). "Detection of fentanyl and its analogs by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay". Journal of analytical toxicology 14 (3): 160–4. doi:10.1093/jat/14.3.160. PMID 2374405. 
  7. ^ CDC Issues Alert On Deadly New Designer Drug, Acetyl Fentanyl. David Kroll, Forbes Magazine, 29 August 2013
  8. ^ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2013). "Acetyl fentanyl overdose fatalities--Rhode Island, March-May 2013". MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report 62 (34): 703–4. PMID 23985500. 
  9. ^ Ogilvie, Laurie, Christina Stanley, Lauren Lewis, Molly Boyd, Matthew Lozier, Matthew Lozier. "Notes from the Field: Acetyl Fentanyl Overdose Fatalities — Rhode Island, March–May 2013". Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. "Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs warns about acetyl fentanyl: drug caused at least 50 fatalities in 2013 in Pennsylvania.". Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. 
  11. ^ Grunfeld, David (November 01, 2013 at 3:31 AM). "Couple found dead in Old Metairie home killed by lethal new synthetic drug". | The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 28 March 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ "DHHS Issues Health Advisory for Deadly New Synthetic Drug". NC DHHS Press Releases. North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  13. ^ "Definitions and interpretations". IsomerDesign. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Hunter, Michelle. "Couple found dead in Old Metairie home killed by lethal new synthetic drug". The Times-Picayune, Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "Seller of synthetic opiate gets 3 years in prison". Associated Press. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2014.