On July 22, 2016, the DEA released an intelligence report warning of the growing problems associated with counterfeit synthetic opioids and fentanyl drugs. The DEA’s release follows the October 26, 2015, CDC health advisory, which also warned of a growing number of deaths and drug-related overdoses due to fentanyl.
The report, Counterfeit Prescription Pills Fueling U.S. Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis: Problems resulting from abuse of opioid drugs continue to grow, identifies Chinese labs as “mass-producing fentanyl and fentanyl-related compounds” to market to “trafficking groups in Mexico, Canada and the United States.”
In 2014, 61% (28,647) of drug overdose deaths “involved some type of opioid, including heroin.”
Fentanyl, introduced over 50-years ago, is listed by the American Journal of Pain as the drug most “often used opioid for intraoperative analgesia“, which translates to a drug most often utilized in operating rooms to place a patient to sleep.
The DEA reports that since 2014, law enforcement agencies throughout the country have new been reporting a “new form of fentanyl” in the counterfeit prescription pill market, in which the pills contain fentanyl or “fentanyl-related products”.
The CDC’s database of fentanyl confiscation ranks Ohio as state with the highest reported confiscations with 1245 confiscations in 2014 (the last year data is available.) The number two and three ranked states are Massachusetts (630) and Pennsylvania (419).
New York City’s Health Department reported 886 drug-related deaths in 2015, 15% (136 reported cases) involved the drug fentanyl. As with all opioid overdoses, naloxone is an effective anecdote in reversing the effects of the synthetic drug.
2016. DEA.Gov., Accessed July 26, 2016.
“Han Archive – 00384_Health Alert Network (HAN)” 2016. EMERGENCY.CDC.GOV. Accessed July 26, 2016.