Global drug tests provider Randox Toxicology has today pledged its support for the PSNI in the fight against fentanyl, a strong painkiller which has been found for sale on the black market in Northern Ireland for the first time.
Fentanyl, which is an opioid pain medication currently classed as a controlled Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, has been found in heroin which was seized by the PSNI, and has been linked to two deaths in Northern Ireland this year.
It is currently used to safely treat patients with severe pain, as it can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. According to the National Crime Agency and Office for National Statistics however, 60 deaths in the UK in the past eight months have been attributed to misuse of fentanyl, which received international attention when the singer Prince was found to have died from a fentanyl overdose.
Dr. Peter FitzGerald, Founder and Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, commented;
“It is extremely worrying to hear that the PSNI have confirmed fentanyl has reached the black market in Northern Ireland. The illegal sale of the painkiller has long been an issue in the USA, with the country having at least two million opioid addicts, but until now has not been used illegally in NI.
“Fentanyl’s status as a painkiller is potentially why it is so commonly abused, as those using prescription painkillers may turn to illicit substances, such as fentanyl, when their prescriptions run out. With as little as 2mg able to cause an overdose, fentanyl is easily hidden and transported in small packages through the post, so poses a major danger to society. The drug has high abuse potential and is being used more and more by drug dealers who can sell fentanyl at a cheaper price than heroin.”
Randox Toxicology, a specialist division of FitzGerald’s Antrim-headquartered Randox Laboratories, has today issued a statement to pledge its commitment to removing the danger of fentanyl from Northern Ireland. The company’s significant investment in the research and development of new tests for drug detection has cemented its status at the forefront of the drugs screening industry. Randox Toxicology, which developed its first fentanyl test in 2007, has the world’s only tests for the designer opiates U-47700, MT-45 and AH-7921.
Dr. Joanne Darragh, Head of Research and Development at Randox Toxicology, commented;
“In the endless pursuit of creating innovative tests for new drugs which emerge weekly on to the market, our expertise at Randox Toxicology sets us apart from the rest of the industry. Not only have we been first to market with a number of opioid tests, but we have also developed our patented Biochip Array Technology, which enables us to simultaneously screen for both fentanyl and heroin, one of which may have been laced with the other.
“Today we pledge the support of our expertise, based on a decade’s worth of experience in developing fentanyl tests, to the PSNI in their efforts to remove the fentanyl threat from Northern Ireland. This is a problem that we must tackle together and we are confident that by highlighting this growing epidemic, we can educate communities on the devastating effects the misuse of fentanyl can have.”