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The rise in deaths tied to the deadly opioid fentanyl is prompting concern from the border, where it’s crossing into the United States in record amounts, to research institutions across the country. The drug, which according to the Drug Enforcement Agency mostly originates in China in its illicit form and precursors, is about 50 times stronger than heroin.
Health professionals hope fentanyl-detecting test strips will help reduce the number of deaths related to the dangerous drug. While abstinence is the sure way to avoid fentanyl related deaths, health experts suggested those who engage in recreational use of drugs should consider using fentanyl test strips before ingesting the substances.
Experts told Fox News that fentanyl cannot be detected by sight, taste, smell or touch and is often added to other drugs to make the drugs cheaper and more powerful. It also makes the drugs more addictive and more dangerous, according to the CDC.
Knowing if the drugs you plan to use contain fentanyl can lower your risk of overdose, according to health experts who explained how to use the test strips at this link nyc.org.
“Fentanyl is a poison hidden in counterfeit pills and other substances without the knowledge of the user. It is the driver of the overdose crisis from the regular user to the kid in high school who pops a pill at a party and is found dead the next morning,” Fred Muench, Ph.D., who is president of the Partnership to End Addiction, told Fox News.
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Muench also said these fentanyl test strips could make an impact on deaths related to the opioid crisis and said, “Readily available fentanyl test strips will save lives and should be disseminated across the country for free.”
Fentanyl has become one of the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal health agency stated on their website, that over 150 people die daily from overdoses linked to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Health experts told Fox news; those even small doses of the drug can be deadly.
“The core principle is that some people are very sensitive to the respiratory depressant effects of fentanyl, as some are sensitive to the primary and side effects of any medications. Most just don’t know it,” Dr. Scott D. Cook-Sather, a physician of the Department of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told Fox News in a recent interview.
During that interview, Cook-Sather, told how fentanyl is used in tiny doses with some medical procedures. The anesthesiologist discussed a case where he informed a 17-year-old patient that he demonstrated a “heightened sensitivity to fentanyl” and the teen had a breathing episode during the medical procedure. Luckily, that teen was able to receive immediate medical attention, Cook-Sather told Fox News.
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Party –goers with this unknown hypersensitivity would not be as lucky to have a team of physicians there to provide immediate medical intervention, health experts discussed with Fox News and said situations like that demonstrate the importance of these test strips.
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According to the CDC, the test strips are inexpensive and results are given typically within five minutes “which can be the difference between life and death.” The CDC did warn that even if the test is negative, the user should take caution, as the test strips may not detect other more potent drugs that are similar to fentanyl, like carfentanil. The health agency also discussed the importance of having the drug narcan readily available in the event of an overdose or fatal reaction to the drug.