Richard Frank and I have a piece on the fentanyl threat to public health in the current New England Journal of Medicine. I am still stunned by the incredible percentage of current opiate OD deaths that involve fentanyl and related substances.
Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, poses an increasing public health threat. Low production costs encourage suppliers to â€œcutâ€ heroin with the drug, particularly white powder heroin sold in the eastern United States. Fentanyl also appears as a prevalent active ingredient in counterfeit OxyContin (oxycodone) tablets. The result is that fentanyl plays a major role in rising mortality due to heroin or opioid overdose. It poses a serious overdose risk because it can rapidly suppress respiration and cause death more quickly than do other opioids