Fentanyl Presents Law Enforcement with Complex Challenges

Fentanyl Presents Law Enforcement with Complex Challenges
Fentanyl, the opioid that is up to 50 times as potent as heroin, is presenting law enforcement with complex challenges, according to Richard Baum, Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. In a letter to U.S. House legislators, Baum said fentanyl is coming into the country from an array of sources, The Wall Street Journal reports. He called fentanyl “an urgent public health threat.” Just 2 milligrams of powdered fentanyl can be deadly. Authorities seized at least 668 kilograms of fentanyl last year—enough to kill every American. Seizures of fentanyl in liquid and pill form have also been increasing.
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Addressing America’s Fentanyl Crisis

Addressing America’s Fentanyl Crisis
Every day, 91 Americans fatally overdose on an opioid drug. It may be a prescription analgesic or heroin—4-8 percent of people who misuse painkillers transition to heroin—but increasingly it is likely to be heroin’s much more potent synthetic cousin fentanyl. In the space of only two years, fentanyl has tragically escalated the opioid crisis. This drug is 50-100 times more potent than morphine and able to enter the brain especially quickly because of its high fat solubility; just 2 milligrams can kill a person, and emergency personnel who touch or breathe it may even be put in danger. Unfortunately, many people addicted to opioids as well as other drugs like cocaine are accidentally being poisoned by fentanyl-laced products. Although fentanyl is a medicine prescribed for post-surgical pain and palliative care, most of the fentanyl responsible for this surge of deaths is made illicitly in China and imported to the U.S. via...
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Border Officers Seizing Record Number of Pill Presses Used to Make Fake Drugs

Border Officers Seizing Record Number of Pill Presses Used to Make Fake Drugs
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are seizing a record number of pill presses used to make counterfeit drugs, CNN reports. Pill presses allow someone to take powder and press it into a pill. Most of the pill press machines come from China, the article notes. Much of the illegal fentanyl that is coming into the country also comes from China. The presses are being used to mix fentanyl with drugs such as oxycodone or Xanax. These counterfeit pills can be deadly. “People have died from ingesting what they think is a legitimate painkiller, (but really) it’s a counterfeit pill that contains fentanyl,” said John Martin, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s San Francisco division. “To the naked eye, you can’t tell the difference. If you have counterfeit pills, you can’t make them without pill presses.”
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CDC: Fentanyl Sold as Cocaine Led to 12 Overdoses in 8 Hours

CDC: Fentanyl Sold as Cocaine Led to 12 Overdoses in 8 Hours
A hospital in New Haven, Connecticut treated 12 people who overdosed last June when they used fentanyl that had been sold as cocaine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Three of the people died. Fentanyl is an opioid that can be 50 times as strong as heroin, ABC News reports. Many fentanyl overdoses occur when the drug is sold as heroin, oxycodone or other opioids. A rapid response from public health officials and police may have saved lives, the CDC noted. Paramedics were equipped with additional naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote. Officials traced back the source of the drugs, issued a public service announcement and gave out naloxone to families and friends of people known to use opioids.
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Deaths from Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids Rose 72% in One Year

Deaths from Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids Rose 72% in One Year
Drug deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids rose 72 percent from 2014 to 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. New York experienced the greatest rise in synthetic opioid deaths, with a 135.7 percent increase. Other states with large increases included Connecticut (125.9 percent) and Illinois (120 percent). The CDC says 33,091 people died from overdoses of illicit and prescription opioid painkillers in 2015, according to CNN. Opioid overdoses account for 63 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2015, up from 61 percent in 2014. “Too many Americans are feeling the devastation of the opioid crisis either from misuse of prescription opioids or use of illicit opioids,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a news release. “Urgent action is needed to help health care providers treat pain safely and treat opioid use disorder effectively, support law enforcement strategies to reduce the availability of illicit opiates, and support...
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DEA Releases Drug Threat Assessment: Fentanyl-Related Overdose Deaths Rising At an Alarming Rate

DEA Releases Drug Threat Assessment: Fentanyl-Related Overdose Deaths Rising At an Alarming Rate
DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg announced results from the 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), which details the extent to which illicit drugs are affecting the United States. Most notably, the 2016 NDTA continues to illuminate the nationwide opioid epidemic, which is fueling a growing heroin user population and resulting in a greater amount of overdoses. In 2014, approximately 129 people died every day as a result of drug poisoning and 61% (79) of them are pharmaceutical opioid or heroin related. This opioid epidemic has been exacerbated by the national reemergence of fentanyl - a synthetic opioid which is much more potent than heroin. Fentanyl’s strong opioid properties have made it an attractive drug of abuse. Illicit fentanyl, manufactured in foreign countries and then smuggled into the United States, is a rising factor in the current overdose epidemic. It is usually mixed into heroin products or pressed into counterfeit prescription pills,...
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United States Asks United Nations to Help Control Fentanyl Ingredients

United States Asks United Nations to Help Control Fentanyl Ingredients
The United States has asked the United Nations to classify two chemicals used to make fentanyl as controlled substances, The Wall Street Journal reports. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrote a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, asking that the ingredients be added to a list of controlled substances in a U.N. convention that regulates narcotics. If the chemicals are added to the list, countries would be required to monitor their export and inform recipient nations of any planned shipments, the article notes. Nations also would have to seize shipments that appeared linked to illegal production of a narcotic drug. Drug cartels are selling lethal doses of fentanyl disguised as street heroin and counterfeit OxyContin pills, two U.S. government agencies warned earlier this month. Just a few grains of fentanyl can be lethal, the agencies said.
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US Warning: Drug Cartels Substituting Fentanyl for Heroin

US Warning: Drug Cartels Substituting Fentanyl for Heroin
Drug cartels are selling lethal doses of fentanyl disguised as street heroin and counterfeit OxyContin pills, two U.S. government agencies are warning. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice are cautioning people who buy illegal drugs and painkillers on the street or in Tijuana, Mexico, that cartels are using fentanyl because they can produce it more cheaply. Just a few grains of fentanyl can be lethal, the agencies said. In September, authorities confiscated more than 70 pounds of fentanyl and 6,000 counterfeit pills, NBC 7 reports. “It’s extremely profitable for the cartels. They aren’t having to wait for harvest. They aren’t having to harvest the poppy plants. They’re not having to manufacture that paste into heroin. They are literally just getting a chemical from China,” DEA spokeswoman Amy Roderick told NBC 7.
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CDC Reports Large Jump in Seized Drugs That Test Positive for Fentanyl

CDC Reports Large Jump in Seized Drugs That Test Positive for Fentanyl
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting a 426 percent increase in seized drugs that tested positive for fentanyl between 2013 and 2014, according to NPR. The number of deaths involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids increased 79 percent during that period. The CDC analyzed data from 27 states, and found a strong link between increases in synthetic opioid deaths and seized fentanyl products, but not with changes in fentanyl prescribing. The findings suggest that illegally made fentanyl is behind the increase in overdoses, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.Fentanyl is prescribed to treat severe pain. The fentanyl that is being mixed with heroin and sold on the streets is being illicitly manufactured, the CDC noted.
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CDC Reports Sharp Increases in Fentanyl-Involved Overdose Deaths

CDC Reports Sharp Increases in Fentanyl-Involved Overdose Deaths
CDC reports that law enforcement fentanyl encounters increased from less than 1,000 from 2010 to 2012 to nearly 14,000 in 2015. Synthetic-opioid involved deaths increased nearly 80% from 2013 to 2014. From 2013 to 2014, law enforcement encounters (drug submitted for analysis) testing positive for fentanyl sharply increased in a growing number of states, according to two new articles published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths including fentanyl have also increased in multiple states. Recent investigations in Ohio and Florida provide strong evidence that increases in fentanyl deaths do not involve prescription fentanyl but are primarily related to illicitly-made fentanyl. Illicitly-made fentanyl is often mixed with or sold as heroin—with or without the users’ knowledge and increasingly distributed in counterfeit pills. Key findings from 2013 to 2014: Law enforcement fentanyl encounters in the U.S. quadrupled. Synthetic opioid-involved deaths in the U.S. increased by nearly 80%,...
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