The pharmaceutical drug is manufactured for pain management, however, clandestine laboratories also produce the drug and mix in heroin; sometimes referred to as Apace, China Girl, Dance Fever, or He-Man, the deadly cocktail has infiltrated our streets, neighborhoods, and workplaces.
According to a recently published report from the US Centre for Disease Control's (CDC) National Vital Statistics System, between 2011 and 2016, fentanyl was among the top 10 drugs most frequently involved in deaths from drug overdose. According to the report:
- Oxycodone held the top spot for fatal overdoses in 2011
- Heroin reigned as the number one culprit for overdoses from 2011 to 2015
- Overdose deaths from fentanyl surpassed both oxycodone and heroin starting in 2016
Today, fentanyl continues to play a significant role in drug overdose deaths in the US, with large-scales manufacturing and smuggling into the country of serious concern. On January 31 of this year, the US Customs and Border Protection announced the biggest ever fentanyl bust in history. Officials in Arizona seized more than 254 pounds fentanyl coming across the border from Mexico in a produce truck.
Sadly, according to the CDC, more than 28,000 deaths were directly attributed to synthetic opioids in 2017. Additionally, deaths from synthetic opioids significantly increased in 23 states and Washington D.C. from 2016 – 2017, with West Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire with the highest synthetic opioid related death rates4.
More overdose deaths in the US are linked to fentanyl than any other drug. As illicit manufacturing continues, increased public education and awareness will be increasingly important in stopping fentanyl’s deadly effects.