The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this week warned the nation’s opioid epidemic has been exacerbated by the reemergence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
In its annual National Drug Threat Assessment, the agency noted fentanyl is usually mixed into heroin products or pressed into counterfeit prescription pills, sometimes without the users’ awareness, which often leads to overdose.
The DEA found that in 2014, approximately 129 people died every day as a result of drug poisoning and more than half of those were opioid or heroin related, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
“Sadly, this report reconfirms that opioids such as heroin and fentanyl – and diverted prescription pain pills – are killing people in this country at a horrifying rate,” DEA Acting Administrator Rosenberg said in a news release.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has added another fentanyl-related drug, known as furanyl fentanyl, to its list of banned substances, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Furanyl fentanyl started appearing in a national database that tracks drug seizures in December 2015, the article notes.
The drug has been linked with 325 deaths through October of this year.
The legal form of fentanyl, which is used to help cancer patients manage serious pain, is up to 50 times stronger than heroin. Illegal versions of the drug are often made in China and mixed into heroin or added to fake prescription pills.
Last month the DEA temporarily banned the synthetic drug Pink under federal law. The agency has received reports of at least 46 confirmed deaths associated with the drug, also known as U-47700.