The public health warning came after tests on a powder recovered by gardaí investigating the suspected drug- related death of a teenager confirmed the drug U-47700, which is known on the streets as pinky, pink, or U4.
It may be in circulation in the city in white powder form and resembles cocaine.
The super-strong synthetic drug has been linked to up to 90 deaths in the US in the last nine months, including two 13-year-olds in Utah, as well as deaths in Europe.
It hit the headlines after the death of the singer Prince, who took a cocktail of drugs which included U-47700 and fentanyl. It is almost eight times more potent than heroin.
It was added to the list of schedule 1 drugs in the US last November, but can still be bought easily online from underground or street labs, many of which are in China.
An autopsy was conducted yesterday on the body of Michael Cornacchia, 16, following his death on the southside of Cork on Monday but gardaí said it will be some time before the results of toxicology tests can confirm cause of death.
The HSE advises against taking illegal drugs, but said if people decide to take such substances, they should be aware there is no quality control, and they should take certain harm-reduction measures.
“There is no way of telling what is in a powder or pill just by looking at it. It may look like the drug you want to purchase but it may well be something else,” said a HSE public health expert.
- You can get information by contacting the confidential HSE Drugs and Alcohol Helpline at freephone 1800 459 459 or online at drugs.ie.