Ohio officials warn that six different types of the deadly fentanyl are circulating in the state’s illicit drug supply.
The Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center issued the warning Friday, saying the synthetic opioid is circulating in the state in the form of gum, black tar, powder, tablets, chalk and rocks.
Fentanyl has fueled America’s drug crisis. Originally developed for hospitals, it is now cut into other drugs, so those overdosing on it often have no idea they’re taking it.
The Ohio Department of Health estimates that illicit fentanyl was involved in 81 percent of the state’s overdoses in 2020. That same year, deaths related to the drug increased by 32 percent.
The Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center has identified six forms of fentanyl in the state
Deaths caused by fentanyl in the US surged in the 2010s. At the start of the decade, 2,666 Americans died of a fentanyl overdose. This figure shot up to 19,413 by 2016. Covid made the situation worse, with a record 72,484 deaths recorded in 2021
The Ohio Department of Health has noted a dramatic increase in fentanyl-related deaths. In 2020 alone, the drug was involved in 81 percent of overdose deaths
The state’s officials have released a warning against six types of fentanyl that have been encountered locally.
The Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center (ONIC) released a bulletin on Friday stating that the variety of fentanyl in the state includes powder, tablet, chalk, rock, black tar, and gum.
The agency stated that while they have not yet been encountered in the state, other forms of fentanyl include those molded into shapes such as pellets, popcorn, Lego-shaped blocks, puzzle pieces, and confetti tablets.
ONIC advised caution to any individuals in the vicinity of drug activity since, due to the variety of forms it comes in, fentanyl is difficult to identify.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
The pharmaceutical version was invented in the US in 1959 as a cheaper alternative to other painkillers. It was used for both severe pain and terminal illnesses such as cancer.
Three chemicals, benzylfentanyl, 4-anilinopiperidine and norfentanyl and considered to be precursors to fentanyl by the DEA – meaning they are primary ingredients to the drug’s creation.
It binds to opioid receptors in a person’s nervous system, which are responsible for giving the body a pleasurable feeling when activated.
Now, it’s used in street drugs.
It takes a vanishingly small dose of fentanyl to cause a fatal overdose. Just two milligrams, the equivalent of five grains of salt, is enough to cause death.
Because it is cut into other popular drugs, many people who die of overdoses do not know they are taking fentanyl.
The drug also takes on a variety of forms, including ones that look like chalk, rocks, and even chewed up gum.
The ONIC advisory also cautions against fentanyl mixed with black tar heroin.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency has called fentanyl the ‘deadliest drug facing this country.’
In a senate hearing in March, Alejandro Mayorkas of the United States Department of Homeland Security said fentanyl was linked to more than 75,000 deaths in 2022, the equivalent of 1,500 lives lost every week.
In 2010, that number was just 2,666, according to the CDC.
The NIH estimated fentanyl-related deaths in young people increased by 182 percent from 2019 to 2021.
Mr Mayorkas said fentanyl is the ‘single greatest challenge the US faces as a country.’
The drug has become the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 49. It has also dropped the average life expectancy in the US from 78.8 in 2019 to 76.4 in 2021. Experts have described this drop as ‘dramatic’ and ‘substantial.’
The drug has been partially blamed for America’s sharp fall in life-expectancy over the past three years. It’s now found in everything from cocaine to molly and street benzodiazepines like Xanax.
Fentanyl was first produced in India and China. Precursor chemicals and powder were mailed to North America. Now, labs in Mexico mix those chemicals into counterfeit pills and smuggle them into the US.
The fentanyl crisis has helped fuel the steep drop in American life expectancy in recent years. Americans now live 76.4 years on average, down from 78.8 years in 2019. In the UK, which suffered the Covid pandemic just as the US did, but does not suffer a fentanyl crisis, life expectancy slightly increased from 81.3 years in 2019 to 81.52 in 2021.
The drug was initially produced in India and China and mailed to recipients across North America. Makeshift labs have since sprung up in Mexico to receive the precursor chemicals from Asia, mix them or press them into pills, and smuggle them into the US
Customs and Border Protection seized a record nearly 15,000 pounds of fentanyl last year. More than 90 percent of busts occurred at ports of entry along the Mexican border.
Naloxone, sold under the brand name, Narcan, is the main treatment for fentanyl overdoses. It has an extremely high success rate.
A study from Brigham and Women’s hospital found that 94 percent of people who were given naloxone survived their overdose.
In a study from Harm Reduction Journal, more than 90 percent of participants were worried that a single box of Narcan would not be enough for a successful reversal. However, 95 percent of overdose events were prevented.
It was approved last month by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over the counter use, which means it will become widely available by the end of the summer — from vending machines to big box stores.
Narcan’s manufacturer has not specified an exact price point for the drug, but estimates range from $22 all the way up to $141 depending on location and insurance. It can be sold either in packs of one or two.
In the 12-months ending in August 2022, emergency medical services responded to 396,312 activations nationwide that involved the use of Narcan.
Narcan still comes at a cost in many locations. It can be covered by insurance, but coverage depends on the specific plan.
You may need a prior authorization before insurance will cover it.
Though not available over the counter until the end of summer, it is available to purchase from a pharmacist in all 50 states.
Coupons and assistance tools for affording Narcan can be used, depending on insurance.
Read the full article here
Discussion about this post