U. S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would ban a new synthetic opioid, Isotonitazene, or “iso,” from the United States.
Cotton said the drug, like fentanyl, is manufactured in China and shipped to other countries, including the United States, and has no legitimate medical or industrial use.
“Reports of ‘iso’—as this hard to pronounce drug is often called on the street—are still scattered. A shipment was seized in Canada early last year. Now it’s been popping up in Europe—in countries as far-flung as Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Sweden, and the UK.” Cotton said on the floor of the Senate. “And at about the same time, iso has found its way to America as well. It’s turned up in pill or powder form, seemingly shipped in concentrated, small quantities that escape detection too often. Once it’s here, it’s usually cut with other drugs, like heroin and cocaine, to make them more powerful—and much more deadly. An unsuspecting drug user can inject a tainted dose or take a counterfeit prescription drug pill and be dead within minutes. Iso is just like fentanyl in that regard.”
Cotton said that according to the U. S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), iso has already been confirmed to have killed at least 18 Americans in four different states and has been encountered in at least 48 confirmed incidents across nine states. However, Cotton said, it has likely killed many more because tests for iso are not widely available.
Cotton’s bill would permanently classify iso as a Schedule One controlled substance. While the DEA has already classified it as such, that classification would only last two years.