Not just Prince:Illegally Manufactured Fentanyl Linked to Rise in Overdoses
The increasing distribution of illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) across the United States, and the sharp rise in overdose deaths linked to this drug, are causing more concern about a growing threat to public health and safety.
According to a report published online August 25 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the number of drug products obtained by law enforcement that tested positive for fentanyl (fentanyl submissions) increased by 426% from 2013 through 2014. Deaths related to synthetic opioids (excluding methadone) increased by 79% during that period.
"An urgent, collaborative public health and law enforcement response is needed to address the increasing problem of IMF and fentanyl deaths," said the report's authors, led by R. Matthew Gladden, PhD, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Pharmaceutical fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, is approved for the management of surgical/postoperative pain, severe chronic pain, and breakthrough cancer pain. IMF, which is unlawfully produced fentanyl obtained through illicit drug markets, is commonly mixed with or sold as white powder heroin.
Starting in 2013, the production and distribution of IMF increased to unprecedented levels. In 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the CDC issued nationwide alerts identifying increases in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in multiple states.
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