Fentanyl overdoses are increasing at a dramatic rate in the United States.  Visits to Emergency Rooms are far more frequent now than they were just a few years ago.  Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate that when blending with heroin becomes a life-threatening toxic cocktail as it is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.  Physician in the ER when treating cardiorespiratory complications from an assumed heroin overdose must be mindful of the possibility that Fentanyl may have contaminated the ingested drug.  The Narcan reversal agent requirements may be higher for Fentanyl.  Here are three recent newspaper articles describing the scourge.

The Washington Post (3/20, Achenbach) reports that “the synthetic opioid fentanyl has been driving up the rate of fatal drug overdoses across racial and social lines in the United States, with the sharpest increase among African Americans, according to a new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Data show the African American death rate “from fentanyl-involved drug overdoses rose 141 percent each year, on average, from 2011 to 2016, the study showed.” Meanwhile, the overdose death rate “for Hispanics rose 118 percent in that period every year on average, and 61 percent for non-Hispanic whites.”

The Washington Time  (3/20, Healy) reports that during the study period, 2011 to 2016, “more than 36,000 Americans died with fentanyl in their systems” and the “majority of those deaths – 18,335 – occurred in 2016 alone.” The Times adds that “fentanyl was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration back in 1968.”

NPR (3/21, Bebinger) reports that the study also indicates “men are dying after opioid overdoses at nearly three times the rate of women,” and there is “an especially steep rise in the number of young adults ages 25 to 34 whose death certificates include some version of the drug fentanyl.”

Call Emergency Medicine Expert 510-549-1041
Copyright © 2020 - toxicologyexpert.net