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Pharmacy Board Bans Designer Drugs In Oregon

<p>&nbsp;</p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">This undated photo provided by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner&rsquo;s Office shows fentanyl pills.</span></p>

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office

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This undated photo provided by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office shows fentanyl pills.

Think of heroin as a molecule. Then imagine adding a few extra atoms.

It still has the same physical effect, but technically, it’s no longer heroin and therefore it’s legal.

Marc Watt, the executive director of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, said that’s what’s happening with synthetic opioids and synthetic fentanyl.

“These designers have created these drugs, they’re not controlled substances in the United States," he said.

"They’re manufacturing them in China, and then they’re importing them into the United States and then they’re selling them either as heroin, or they’re mixing it with heroin to get a stronger kick for less money," said Watt.

The Pharmacy Board has added the new drugs to the schedule of Oregon’s controlled substances.

That gives law enforcement the authority to prosecute the sale and possession of designer drugs.

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.