Carfentanyl – also spelled carfentanil - is an ultra-potent synthetic opioid around 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. It is used to tranquilise large animals and is not approved for human use.
However, the drug has been linked to at least 300 deaths from overdose in the US in recent years with research suggesting that drug traffickers have been using it to increase the potency of heroin.
Chiron – which announced it had been cleared to make carfentanyl for research purposes at its facility in Trondheim, Norway this month – is one of the few laboratories in Europe to be allowed to produce the super potent opioid.
Spokesman Joost Vermeer told us “the certified reference material will be made available to all drug makers that have a permit to work with this compound” adding that 10mg of the substance will cost researcher €499.
Despite carfentanyl’s potency and its history of use in illegal narcotics, Vermeer said Chiron is not concerned it may be targeted by criminals seeking to obtain the compound.
He told us “We have the highest security measurements in place of course, and we are living up to the very strict laws in Norway.”
Vermeer added that: “As we produce only a very little amount of each compound we make, usually some mg to max. 1 gram, the risk is also not that high for us.”