ILLEGAL FENTANYL: 65 percent of the agency’s opioid identifications in the second quarter this year

Fentanyl’s ferocious proliferation

The face of America’s opioid crisis is shifting rapidly.

An emerging-threats report prepared by the Drug Enforcement Administration and marked “for official use only” notes that fentanyl — variants of which can be as much as 10,000 times stronger than morphine — made up 65 percent of the agency’s opioid identifications in the second quarter this year. The report, obtained by Foreign Policy, is based on seized drug evidence analyzed by DEA’s laboratory.

Furanyl fentanyl, the next most common compound, made up another 9 percent of opioid identifications.

These numbers reflect the escalation of a frightening trend already identified by public health officials. Data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that fentanyl is now the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States.

The rise of fentanyl underscores how hard it will be to solve the opioid epidemic. President Donald Trump last week declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, saying that “overdoses are driven by a massive increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids.” Yet Mr. Trump’s long-awaited announcement comes months after he first promised to declare opioid abuse a “national emergency,” which would have freed up money from the federal Disaster Relief Fund. A “national public health emergency” does not automatically make more funding available.

The main issue, however, is how best to address the opioid crisis, whether through funding to help treat addiction or more emphasis on law enforcement, such as a border wall, the solution favored by Mr. Trump. A presidential commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, is expected to submit its final report next week.

Clamping down on drug supply has proved difficult, since the opioid epidemic is so fluid. Even if law enforcement were to curtail heroin coming in from Mexico, this might simply open new avenues of supply. Much of furanyl fentanyl, for example, originates in China and comes through the mail.

One Response

  1. How can anyone submit a report,,,before hearing from this fiction pain management committee,,WHERE IS IT??!!!why hasn’t our side been heard again??!!How can they submit anything when all the numbers and people sitting in that committee are corrupt liars,,??!!!maryw

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