Lafayette Police Bust Alabama Man with $47,000 Worth of Cough Syrup
LAFAYETTE (KPEL News) - A narcotics investigation led to officers finding 50 bottles of promethazine syrup, a prescription cough syrup with a high street value and known for its narcotic effects.
Mikel Daniels, 26, of Prichard, Alabama, was arrested by the Lafayette Police Department on Tuesday after the discovery of the bottles, each of which contained around 430 ml of the liquid medicine.
The estimated street value of the drug puts the entire load at just over $47,000. Daniels was charged with possession with intent to distribute a pharmaceutical drug without a prescription.
Promethazine and Codeine
The value of the drug comes from the narcotic codeine in the mixture. The FDA has been moving to restrict prescriptions of the drug in recent years, especially given the rise of the opioid epidemic in the United State.
The use of the drug has even been referenced in popular culture. "Purple drank" is a phrase that came about in the 1990 and 2000s in rap music, referencing mixing the cough syrup with soft drinks. Rapper Lil Wayne in 2013 was hospitalized in Los Angeles after suffering seizures believed to have been caused in part by the drink.
Codeine is an opiate, much like morphine and other drugs that have a severe narcotic effect on the user. Like other opiates, it's can be highly addictive.
The Opioid Crisis
Overall, drug addiction from opiates and opioids have been a major cause for concern among U.S. officials. One of the most deadly of those drugs currently is fentanyl, which has been one of the leading causes of drug overdose death in recent years.
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According to the FDA, fentanyl-related deaths in particular have been on the rise particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rates of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, increased over 56% from 2019 to 2020. The number of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids in 2020 was more than 18 times the number in 2013. More than 56,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids in 2020. The latest provisional drug overdose death counts through June 2021 suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, Walmart joined Walgreens and CVS in settling a major lawsuit over filling opioid prescriptions without proper authentication. All three major pharmacies have to pay out billions, though the settlements don't require them to admit fault.