Fentanyl epidemic is sweeping the town of Huntington in the state of West Virginia

10 October 2017
Fentanyl epidemic is sweeping the town of Huntington in the state of West Virginia

Pain relief for manual labour has led to the prescription of medication in the town of Huntington in the US, causing the biggest drug epidemic in US history. With 80% of drug users in this town starting off with the legal prescription drug, oxycontin, a recent crackdown in available prescribed opioids have caused users to turn to a cheaper, more readily alternative such as heroin which has often been cut with fentanyl.

Fentanyl (also known as china white) is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Mixing it with heroin amplifies the potency of both drugs. Since heroin and fentanyl both have depressant effects, users feel exaggerated drowsiness, nausea, confusion, sedation and, in extreme instances, unconsciousness, respiratory depression, and death.

Highlighted by Louis Theroux in his latest BBC documentary, the rate of fatal overdoses is 13 times the national average in Huntington with 1100 overdoses taking place last year and an estimated one in ten babies being born dependent on this opioid.

The Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States has recently released safety alerts for fentanyl and carfentanil, advising what steps to follow in situations where such drugs might be present, including the immediate application of naloxone in case of exposure.

With Randox Toxicology’s new psychoactive substance panel you can test for designer fentanyl and opioids, including ocfentanil, sufentanil, carfentanil and remifentanil. Our expertise in research and development allows us to adapt to the ever changing drug market and develop new assays for current drug trends and provide hospitals with the opportunity to detect fentanyl quickly and efficiently reducing the burden on current healthcare systems.

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