For the first time, promethazine—typically prescribed to treat nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness—has been found in counterfeit versions of the prescription opioid pain medication Norco, which normally contains acetaminophen and hydrocodone.
The authors of recent case reports noted that promethazine use apparently has become common among chronic opioid users because it intensifies the opioid “high.” Their reports described 7 cases of opioid intoxication earlier this year in California’s San Francisco Bay Area from counterfeit Norco containing promethazine and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid analgesic with 100 times the potency of morphine (Vo TK et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;65:420-423).
Counterfeit Norco Poses New Danger. JAMA. 2016;315(22):2390. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.6975