In Focus: Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a synthetic (man-made) opioid 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and non-pharmaceutical fentanyl. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is primarily prescribed to manage acute and chronic pain associated with advanced cancer. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, which is illegally made, is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine in order to increase the drug’s effect.[i] Most fentanyl confiscations in 2014 occurred in the Midwest, northeast, and southern regions of the United States. Ohio had twice as many confiscations as any other state in 2015.[ii] The Poison Control Center calculated that there were 39,616 calls to the center in 2015 for opioid overdoses.
By Kevin Thompson
Regional Evaluator Region 9 Prevention Resource Center
[i]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Injury Prevention & Control: Opioid Oversode. www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/fentanyl.html, December 21, 2015.
[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Health Advisory: Increases in Fentanyl Drug Confiscations and Fentanyl-related Overdose Fatalities. HAN Health Advisory, October 26, 2015, http://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00384.asp, February 2016.
Published August 10, 2016.