Fentanyl – The Latest Deadly Trend

What Exactly is Fentanyl?

With all of the buzz of our nation’s opioid crisis in the news lately, you may have heard a new word thrown around quite a bit – fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a cheap, synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. This makes Fentanyl a drug of choice among opioid users looking for a stronger high. Because of this tendency in opioid users, fentanyl is also frequently used by dealers as a cutting agent for heroin – an extremely dangerous and unscrupulous practice due to the extremely small margin between the amount of fentanyl required for a high vs. the amount which will cause an overdose.

In addition, heroin usually costs around $5,000 per kilo – where fentanyl costs about $3,000 for the same amount. Because the drug is so much cheaper than heroin, some dealers sell even skip cutting and sell fentanyl as heroin. This yields a bigger payday for the dealer, and a much bigger risk to the user unknowingly taking a far more lethal drug.

The Origins of Fentanyl

Despite the title of the article, fentanyl is not a new drug. In fact, it’s been around for over 50 years.

The drug is FDA-approved for treating severe pain and is most often used for cancer patients. Since 2014, doctors have written more than 6.65 million legitimate fentanyl prescriptions – most commonly in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges for patients who actually need them. Fentanyl has been abused by opiate users since it first appeared on the market – but because it was so hard to obtain, it was generally considered a minor threat at worst.

There is recently, however, an absolute flood of illicit fentanyl showing up in the US and Canada.

Where Does it Come From?

Much of the fentanyl in America can be traced back to China. What’s not from China, is from Mexico – and that was originally shipped from, once again, China.

“China is a global source of fentanyl and other illicit substances because the country’s vast chemical and pharmaceutical industries are weakly regulated and poorly monitored,” a report released in February 2017 by the U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission states. “Chinese law enforcement officials have struggled to adequately regulate thousands of chemical and pharmaceutical facilities operating legally and illegally in the country, leading to increased production and export of illicit chemicals and drugs.”

By the Numbers

  • Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin
  • Just 2-3 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal (dependent on person’s tolerance, weight, method of administration, etc.)
  • It takes 4-5 doses of Naloxone, which reverses heroin effects, to reverse the effect of Fentanyl

Drug Testing for Fentanyl

DTPM offers a Fentanyl Assay DRI Reagent Kit for labs. If an employer is suspicious of a heroin user, this test could potentially save someone’s life since most users don’t even know they are taking fentanyl until it’s too late.

Interested in learning more?  Call us at 256-845-1261, or visit our website at www.DTPM.com.