NewsPasco County


ISO: Opioid '20 times' stronger than fentanyl found in Pasco overdose cases, sheriff's office says

ISO is a synthetic drug that can be absorbed, ingested or inhaled
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Posted at 1:53 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 13:53:56-05

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is informing people in the Tampa Bay area about a dangerous synthetic drug that's turning up in local overdose investigations.

According to the DEA, isotonitazene, commonly referred to as ISO, emerged on the illicit synthetic drug market in April 2019. According to the sheriff's office, it's 20 times stronger than fentanyl.

According to a 2021 report by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, officials at the time identified at least 40 fatal overdoses involving ISO.

According to an expert who spoke to ABC News in 2020, the drug is "probably 60 times stronger than morphine."

Dr. Roueen Rafeyan, the chief medical officer of the Gateway Foundation and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University, told ABC News that ISO, "is a white or yellow powder [that] can be mixed with other substances."

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office says ISO can be absorbed by skin contact, ingested or inhaled.

The sheriff's office offered these signs of an overdose to watch out for:

  • Blue/purple fingernails
  • Blue/purple lips
  • Difficult breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Clammy skin
  • Vomiting
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Drowsiness

The sheriff's office said the symptoms can occur within minutes of exposure.

If you believe someone is overdosing, call 911 immediately.