The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a nationwide alert on Fentanyl as threat to health and public safety yesterday.
The alert warns the public about the dangers of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues/compounds and provides information about a current increase in overdoses related to these substances. Fentanyl is commonly laced in heroin, causing significant problems across the country, particularly as heroin abuse has increased. The alert was issued through the multi-agency El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) to all U.S. law enforcement.
Some recent examples of the fentanyl surge across the United States include the following:
- New Hampshire State Laboratory recently reported four fentanyl overdose deaths within a two-month period.
- New Jersey saw a huge spike in fentanyl deaths in 2014, reporting as many as 80 in the first six months of the fiscal year.
- Rhode Island and Pennsylvania have also seen huge increases since 2013. In a 15-month period, about 200 deaths were reported in Pennsylvania related to fentanyl.
- In the St. Louis area, based on information provided by medical examiners over a 10-year period, fentanyl was the only drug attributed as a primary death factor in 44 percent of overdose cases.
- In June 2014, DEA New York dismantled a heroin and fentanyl network and arrested the two heads of the organization. These individuals were linked to at least three overdose deaths from heroin and fentanyl they sold.
Charles W. Morgan, MD, FASAM, FAAFP, DABAM
Acting Medical Director
New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services