Over 48,000 deaths in 2016-17
| This substance is so potent that a few milligrams can be fatal. Could it be used to attack the U.S.?
| Bloomberg – It would take only 118 pounds of fentanyl to kill 25 million people.
That’s how much of the powerful opioid painkiller Nebraska State Trooper Sam Mortensen found in April when he stopped a truck marked “U.S. Mail” swerving onto the shoulder along Interstate 80.
Rolling up the trailer door revealed an empty hold. But just below a refrigeration unit, behind a plastic panel secured with mismatched bolts, Mortensen found 42 brick-shaped packages, weighing 54 kilograms, full of fentanyl.
The drug is so potent that even a small amount — the equivalent of a few grains of salt — can be lethal.
“Is that even believable? Can you even imagine?,” President Donald Trump said in October when Mortensen was honored at the White House for making one of the largest fentanyl seizures in U.S. history.
The truck’s two drivers were arrested. “Trooper Mortensen, that was a job well done.”
Fentanyl has emerged as the most dangerous of a group of drugs blamed for creating a U.S. public health crisis.
American deaths linked to fentanyl grew more than 50 percent to 29,406 last year, from 19,413 in 2016, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Relatively easy to manufacture, the drug is turning up more on the streets as dealers strive to meet still-enormous demand for opioids in the U.S.
Fentanyl is ever-evolving as suppliers try to avoid detection and still boost the potency of the drug using what are called analogues — essentially chemical cousins.
“There’s never been a drug like fentanyl before,” said Josh Bloom, senior director of chemical and pharmaceutical research at the American Council on Science and Health. “For street drugs, this absolutely destroys anything else in terms of lethality and danger.” 1,500 Fentanyl Deaths This Year In One State
Fentanyl is an opioid used as a pain medication and together with other medications for anesthesia.
Fentanyl is also made illegally and used as a recreational drug, often mixed with heroin or cocaine.
It has a rapid onset and effects generally last less than an hour or two. Medically, fentanyl is used by injection, as a patch on the skin, as a nasal spray, or in the mouth.
Brand names include Sublimaze, Actiq, Durogesic, Duragesic, Fentora, Matrifen, Haldid, Onsolis, Instanyl, Abstral, Lazanda, and others. Subsys is a sublingual spray of fentanyl manufactured by Insys Therapeutics.
FDA Approved Drug Products | Fentanyl Manufacturers
US companies approved to market Fentanyl in the U.S. (Source):
- 3M DRUG DELIVERY, St. Paul, MN
- ABBOTT, Abbott Park, Illinois
- ACTAVIS LABS UT INC, Salt Lake City, Utah
- HOSPIRA, Lake Forest, Illinois
- LAVIPHARM LABS, East Windsor, NJ
- MAYNE PHARMA, Raleigh, NC
- MYLAN PHARMS INC, Canonsburg, PA
- NOVEN, Miami, FL
- PAR PHARM, Woodcliff Lake, NJ
- SPECGX LLC, Saint Louis, MO
- WEST-WARD PHARMS INT, Eatontown, NJ
Non-US companies approved to market Fentanyl in the U.S.:
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