Canadian, OK (PRWEB) June 20, 2006
An alert was issued on fentanyl by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment from their Director H. Wesley Clark. This advisory was to treatment providers, community organizations and recovery groups and highlighted the growing concerns about the prescription drug and the fatal effects of its known and unknown presence in street drugs.
From Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania to all the way down in Florida, the number of fentanyl-related deaths continue to add up. Most of them recently are attributed to addicts using heroin or cocaine that was laced with fentanyl. Detroit has been one of the hardest hit areas.
“Individuals involved in the public health need to be aware of this new dangerous drug combination,” Dr. Clark said. “They need to be prepared to alert patients, clients and others to help save lives.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration held a special conference in Chicago last week to address the sudden increase in fentanyl-related deaths. Topics of the DEA meeting included the pharmacology of fentanyl, heroin, and other related drugs while discussing strategies to cut down the illicit manufacturing of the painkiller and importation and transportation methods. They also covered the local protocols for addressing outbreaks of overdoses and deaths as well as obtaining and analyzing data from medical examiners and hospitals.
A University of Florida report issued last year stated that the number of fatalities linked to fentanyl is still one-quarter the number associated with other drugs abused, including opiates such as methadone or hydrocodone, but the number of sudden deaths from overdosing on fentanyl has been on the rise during the past few years across the nation.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that the number of emergency room visits for people abusing fentanyl increased by more than ten times from 2000 to 2004.
Fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic, was introduced in the 1960s, but it was not until the early 1990s that it became available in patch form. Last year, the first generic versions of the patch hit the market. The American Academy of Pain Medicine released a statement saying the potentially lethal combination of heroin and fentanyl is of great concern to the medical community and that the prescription drug is nearly 100 times more powerful than morphine.
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