The synthetic drug, called “synthetic marijuana,” responsible for turning parts of New York City into a raucous scene straight out of the Night of the Living Dead over the summer originated from a laboratory operated by one of Big Phama’s top companies.
A report published this week by the New England Journal of Medicine shows that Pfizer, one of leading pharmaceutical companies in the world, inadvertently had a heavy hand in the barrage of “Spice” overdoses that took place in New York this past July, sending more than 30 seriously ill people to the emergency room.
Indeed, the event the media described as a “zombie” outbreak was fueled by a synthetic cannabinoid called AMB-FUBINACA, which the report indicates was first patented by Pfizer around seven years ago. Although the drug company was never able to bring the its experiment in cannabis medicine to the consumer market, public knowledge of its existence, reportedly, is what led to it being recreated in foreign labs all over the globe.
It was recently revealed that this drug, which has been described in online forums as “out of this world potent,” is 85 times stronger than the psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant known as tetrahydrocannabinols or THC.
What’s more is that while the substance (and others marketed as “K2”) is often put in the same rankings as marijuana, medical experts say it is actually much more dangerous, since it can come with some brutal side effects, including seizures, psychosis and even death.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, there has never been a single case where marijuana has caused a single death.
In short, scientists want the drug culture to understand that cannabis and the garbage chalked up to be its synthetic counterpart is not even close to the same in terms of safety.
“There is this false idea out there that these drugs are safe, because no one overdoses on marijuana,” study author Roy Gerona, a clinical chemist at the University of California, San Francisco, told the New York Times.
There is tremendous opportunity on the black market for AMB-FUBINCA, with 1 kilogram having the potential to earn a street dealer as much as $500,000, according to the NY Times.
Pfizer has not yet responded to the report.