Among the new psychoactive substances encountered in forensic investigations is the opioid, acetyl fentanyl. The death of a 28-year-old man from recreational use of this compound is reported. The decedent was found in the bathroom of his residence with a tourniquet secured around his arm and a syringe nearby. Postmortem examination findings included marked pulmonary and cerebral edema and needle track marks. Toxicological analysis revealed acetyl fentanyl in subclavian blood, liver, vitreous fluid, and urine at concentrations of 235 ng/mL, 2400 ng/g, 131 ng/mL, and 234 ng/mL, respectively. Acetyl fentanyl was also detected in the accompanying syringe. Death was attributed to recreational acetyl fentanyl abuse, likely through intravenous administration. The blood acetyl fentanyl concentration is considerably higher than typically found in fatal fentanyl intoxications. Analysis of this case underscores the need for consideration of a wide range of compounds with potential opioid-agonist activity when investigating apparent recreational drug-related deaths.
Keywords: acetyl fentanyl; fatal; forensic science; forensic toxicology; intoxication; opioid; postmortem.
© 2015 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.