Talented Cork footballer first to die in Ireland from synthetic drug

Coroner’s Court told Michael Cornacchia (16) died after consuming U-47700 and ecstasy

Cork Coroner’s Court heard on Thursday that Michael Cornacchia died after consuming U-47700 and ecstasy. Photograph: Provision

Cork Coroner’s Court heard on Thursday that Michael Cornacchia died after consuming U-47700 and ecstasy. Photograph: Provision


A 16-year-old boy died after he took a lethal combination of the opioid U-47700 and ecstasy tablets earlier this year, Cork Coroner’s Court heard on Thurday.

Michael Cornacchia is the first known fatality from the drug U-47700 in the Republic of Ireland.

He was found unresponsive at his home in Deerpark on the southside of Cork city on January 16th.

Detective Inspector Declan O’Sullivan applied for an adjournment of the case as criminal proceedings are being considered.

Inspector O’Sullivan said the case was at an advanced stage in terms of investigation and two arrests had been made. A file is being prepared for the DPP.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, carried out a postmortem on the boy at Cork University Hospital.

She said the teenager had died from ingesting a combination of U-47700 and ecstasy.

Coroner Mr Philip Comyn agreed to adjourn the case for mention on the 25th of January, 2018.

Michael Cornacchia’s body was found by his mother in a bedroom at their home.

She called the emergency services as she could not wake her son. Medics were unable to revive the boy and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Michael was a talented footballer who had been considered for trials with professional clubs in England. He played soccer with several local clubs in Cork.

Opioid U-47700 is a synthetic opioid developed in the 1970s by pharmaceutical company Upjohn to treat severe pain associated with cancer, surgery or injury.

It is said to cause a feeling of euphoric relaxation and is reported to be seven and a half times the strength of morphine.

Sometimes referred to as U4, the synthetic drug has been cited as the cause of dozens of deaths across the US where it has reportedly been sold to unsuspecting individuals who think they are buying cocaine as it is usually sold in a white power form.

Last November the US Drug Enforcement Agency added U-47700 to its list of Schedule One drugs that have a high potential for abuse. Several US states, including Ohio, Florida, Georgia and Oregon, have all moved to ban the drug.

A HSE spokesperson said it was aware that “substances sold as cocaine may in fact contain other substances such as synthetic opioids.

“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.”

After Michael Cornacchia’s death, the HSE issued a warning to drug users about U-47700 called on anyone who has the substance not to take it and to dispose of it safely.