Imported Fentanyl Increases Risk vs. Domestic, PA #1 in 2017 for Overdoses
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), fentanyl made in countries such as China and Mexico is riskier than fentanyl medication diverted by those in the U.S. opioid supply chain. overdoses
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid as much as 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times that of morphine. It is commonly cut into heroin by dealers to increase its strength and boost profits. It’s also been found in cocaine, meth, and other drugs, and also been pressed into false pills that resemble prescription medication such as Vicodin or Xanax.
In fact, fentanyl overtook heroin as the #1 opioid identified in deadly drug overdoses in Pennsylvania in 2016 and continues to increase in prevalence. In 2017, approximately 79% of overdose fatalities in PA involved fentanyl, according to the DEA. In toxicology reports. it was either detected in conjunction with other substances or determined to be the defining cause. This estimate reflects an increase of 52% from 2016.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the year ending October 2017, no U.S. state tallied more overdose fatalities than that of Pennsylvania, coming in at more than 5,500. During that same period, approximately 68,400 overdoses deaths occurred nationally, and both estimates increased from the year(s) before.
Laura Hendrik, field intelligence manager for Pennsylvania’s DEA division.
“The supply of fentanyl, as determined by law enforcement seizures and intelligence, continues to rise. Fentanyl production is cheaper than heroin production and Transnational Criminal Organizations are increasing their profit by supplying fentanyl over other drugs.”
The DEA reports identifying illegally manufactured opioids, mostly in China and Mexico, which are then distributed via an illicit supply chain in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the dark web. DEA agents in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York confiscated more than 200,000 grams of fentanyl in 2017, a dramatic increase from 58,000 the previous year.
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~ Nathalee G. Serrels, M.A., Psychology