A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined overdose deaths in Ohio that occurred in between January and February of this year. It is already known that fentanyl has become a significant contributor to unintentional overdose deaths in the United States. The report highlighted that in approximately 90% of the unintentional overdose deaths examined during this timeframe fentanyl, fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) or both were the cause of death, contrasted with heroin, whic was identified in less than 10% of the cases. Fentanyl is increasingly appearing in combination with other analogs.
So what does this mean? The CDC calls for illicitly manufactured fentanyl testing to become a part of standard toxicology panels for biological specimens. Additionally, because multiple naloxone (Narcan) doses are often required to reverse overdoses from fentanyl, there should be a focus on providing sufficient supplies to first responders. Continued distribution of Narcan through community overdose prevention programs can also mitigate the effects of opioid overdoses.