Fentanyl deaths up 122% in West Virginia, WVU researchers say

MORGANTOWN, W.Va .– If the heroin is coffee, ventanyl espresso. Just as a small espresso cup can supplement you more than a full mug of coffee, one exposure to the user's fentanyl can be higher than the same volume of injection heroin. In fact, Disease Control and Prevention Centers report that meannanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin.

In a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health, West Virginia University researchers Gordon Smith, Marie Abate and Zheng Dai found that fatalities associated with risanyl risen in West Virginia, even as opioids-related deaths decrease. recipe.

By analyzing all drug-related deaths in the state from 2005 to 2017, the research team – which included medical examiners from West Virginia's Department of Health and Human Resources – found that the deaths from fentanyl between 2015 and 2017 were what had between 2005 and 2014.

In contrast, prescription opioids played a role in 75% fewer deaths between 2015 and 2017 than in the previous 10 years.

Why did deaths involving fentanyl skyrocket in 2015? One factor was the growth in illegal ventanyl imports from China. "Until then, people transferring from legally prescribed drugs to illegal drugs were moving to heroin and opioids coming in from Mexico and elsewhere. But then people started manufacturing fentanyl in China, setting up latent laboratories. , waiting one step ahead of drug enforcement agencies, "Smith said, an epidemiologist in the School of Public Health.

"The big thing about ventanyl – and carfentanil now, is a venanyl output that is thousand times more than morphine and heroin – it is very easy to export. Instead of smuggling trucks of heroin, one can Small packages are sent through the posts, "he said.

Another strength of the ventanyl strength is another participant. Smith explained, "Maybe you would have to take – say – 200 Tylenol before you go into certain trouble, but with some other pain relief, you might only need four of them because it's much stronger . "

Users can achieve fentanyl drugs or one or more of these strong analogues without meaning. Undoubtedly, it can be sold as a counterfeit “opioids” or blended into the heroin they buy, even from a dealer who used them without a previous issue. Inadvertently four ounces of espresso can drink instead of drip coffee you make the scrape. If you replace the unpolluted heroin with a fentanyl / heroin mixture you can kill it.

Another problem is that there may be a large variation in the amount of fentanyl in any sample sold on the street. For example, fentanyl dealers can be mixed with adulterants at the local level on their kitchen tables. If they inappropriately mix their product, a spoon in one small bag could be much more than another fentanyl, even in the same batch. In addition, illegal laboratories in the United States can smoothly make chemical modifications to produce another very strong output.

The rise of West Virginia deaths involving fentanyl is part of a national trend. As reported by the CDC, deaths from fentanyl overdoses across the United States in 2015 broke and, from 2017, continued to climb. West Virginia, however, is leading the nation in deaths associated with fentanyl. There is also the highest per capita rate of overdose deaths.

However West Virginia is exceptional for a more positive reason: its medical examiners focus on the cause of all drug-related deaths, and the relevant facts fill a nationwide forensic drug database maintained by the WVU Health Sciences Center. The database includes such information as the accused's demographic information, cause of death, toxicological test results, other medical conditions and a recent prescription for controlled substances.

This database gives scientists, healthcare providers and law enforcement officers an insight into drug misuse trends as they arise. Abate, who leads the West Virginia Center for Drug Information and Pharmaceutical Health, established the database in conjunction with the West Virginia Chief Medical Examiner's Office in 2005.

"The amount of eyelashes found in this database is unique across the country," said Abate – who got – in addition to Smith – advance funding from the West Virginia Clinical and Scientific Translation Institute, WVU Injury Control Research Center and the National Institute of Drug Abuse for research into drug misuse.

The database can help guide public health resources to where they can do the best – and promptly they are worthwhile. For example, the data may indicate which towns need more access to naloxone to treat overdoses. They can even help scientists to determine what modern chemicals they come from on the street.

"One of the proven ways of reducing overdoses is to reduce the number of people with addiction and to use them. But with fentanyl, you could spread the number of addicts in West Virginia, and you could use your addiction. The overdose rate could go up because of the strength of the drug is coming much stronger and it can vary from day to day, ”Smith said." This is a complete issue. "

It recommends more widespread naloxone distribution, including for both injection drug users and their families. It is also important to ensure that the first responders – such as paramedics, firefighters and police – have adequate naloxone supplies – as usage has increased significantly in recent years. "Multiple doses may be needed to reverse the toxicity of opioids," he said, "especially if stronger or long-term opioids are involved."

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The research reported in this publication was supported by the National Health Institutions under Award Numbers 1R21DA040187 and 1UG3DA044825, Disease Control Centers and Prevention under R49CE002109 Prize Number and West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute. WVCTSI is funded by the IDeA Clinical and Transfer grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, under the U54GM104942 Award Number, to support the mission of building a clinical and translational research infrastructure to influence health differences in West Virginia.

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