Fentanyl Resistant to Naloxone Causing Overdoses in Western Pennsylvania

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is reporting a strain of fentanyl, resistant to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, has caused several overdose deaths in Western Pennsylvania. The strain of fentanyl resistant to naloxone is called acryl fentanyl, KDKA reports. “If acryl fentanyl is introduced into the population, it can have devastating effects,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge, David Battiste. The DEA said acryl fentanyl is being manufactured overseas, smuggled into the United States, and sold mainly on the dark web. It comes in powder form, and looks similar to fentanyl. “These are dangerous drugs. They’re cut by these dealers who don’t care about anything other than making a profit. It can be cut with anything,” Battiste said.
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Heroin Tops the List of Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Overdose Deaths

Heroin Tops the List of Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Overdose Deaths
Heroin was the drug most often involved in overdose deaths between 2010 and 2014, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other drugs commonly involved in overdoses included oxycodone, methadone, morphine, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium). More than 47,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2014, up from more than 38,000 in 2010. “Opioids are responsible for a disproportionate number of injuries and deaths,” Dr. Caleb Alexander, a co-director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, told ABC News . “It’s only natural that policymakers and public health officials focus on opioids.”
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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...
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10 Deaths Prevented Daily Because of State Rx Monitoring Programs

10 Deaths Prevented Daily Because of State Rx Monitoring Programs
State drug prescription monitoring programs help prevent 10 opioid-overdose deaths daily in the United States, a new study finds. Implementing the programs in all states, and improving less effective programs could save another two people daily, the researchers said. Missouri is the only state with no drug monitoring program. Its opioid overdose rate has increased more quickly than the national average, the study found. Drug prescription monitoring programs are designed to prevent “doctor shopping” by patients, and to identify doctors who prescribe unusually large doses of opioids. The programs that tracked the most potentially addictive medications and updated their databases at least once a week had the biggest decreases in overdose deaths, Reuters reports. The Vanderbilt University researchers reported in Health Affairs that states with the strongest programs had 1.55 fewer deaths per 100,000 people, compared with less robust programs. “Today, opioid overdose deaths are more common than deaths from...
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Medical Examiners and Coroners Struggle to Keep Up With Drug Overdose Deaths

Medical Examiners and Coroners Struggle to Keep Up With Drug Overdose Deaths
Medical examiners and coroners around the nation are struggling to deal with the large number of drug overdose deaths, the Associated Press reports. The surge in overdose deaths is leading to a shortage of places to store bodies, and long waits for autopsies and toxicology testing, the article notes. The coroner’s office in Hamilton County in Cincinnati has a 100-day backlog of DNA testing for police drug investigations, in large part due to the rise in overdose deaths. Medical examiners in Connecticut and Wisconsin have had to find new places to store bodies when their storage area nears capacity. Overdose deaths have added to existing problems in medical examiner and coroner offices, which include inadequate facilities, budget woes and a shortage of forensic pathologists who are qualified to perform autopsies. Some offices risk losing accreditation because their pathologists are likely to perform more than 325 autopsies a year—the limit set...
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Routinely Prescribing Naloxone Might Prevent Some Opioid-Related Deaths

Routinely Prescribing Naloxone Might Prevent Some Opioid-Related Deaths
Routinely prescribing naloxone to certain patients who take opioid medications might reduce the number of overdose deaths, a new study suggests. The study followed almost 2,000 people who were prescribed opioid painkillers for long-term pain at San Francisco clinics, HealthDay reports. About 38 percent were also prescribed the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. Patients were more likely to receive a prescription for naloxone if they were on a higher dose of opioids, or had experienced an opioid-related emergency room visit. Patients who received a naloxone prescription had 47 percent fewer opioid-related emergency department visits per month in the six months after receiving the prescription, and 63 percent fewer visits after one year, compared with patients who did not receive naloxone. Patients who received naloxone were told when and how to use the drug, which was provided in a nasal spray device. They were also told to ensure someone else knew where...
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