DEA Issues Alert on Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a Schedule II narcotic used as a painkiller and anesthetic. It is the most potent opioid available for use in medical treatment; ingestion of doses as small as 0.25 mg can be fatal.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a nationwide alert March 18 about the dangers of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs/compounds. "Fentanyl is commonly laced in heroin, causing significant problems across the country, particularly as heroin abuse has increased," according to the agency, which said the alert was issued through the multi-agency El Paso Intelligence Center to all U.S. law enforcement.

"Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety," DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said. "Often laced in heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogs produced in illicit clandestine labs are up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous to law enforcement and anyone else who may come into contact with it. DEA will continue to address this threat by directly attacking the drug trafficking networks producing and importing these deadly drugs. We have lost too many Americans to drug overdoses, and we strongly encourage parents, caregivers, teachers, local law enforcement, and mentors to firmly and passionately educate others about the dangers of drug abuse and to seek immediate help and treatment for those addicted to drugs."

National Forensic Laboratory Information System data show that state and local labs reported 3,344 fentanyl submissions in 2014, up from 942 in 2013, according to DEA, which has identified 15 other fentanyl-related compounds. Fentanyl is a Schedule II narcotic used as a painkiller and anesthetic. It is the most potent opioid available for use in medical treatment; ingestion of doses as small as 0.25 mg can be fatal.

"Historically, this is not the first time fentanyl has posed such a threat to public health and safety. Between 2005 and 2007, over 1,000 U.S. deaths were attributed to fentanyl – many of which occurred in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The source of that fentanyl was traced to a single lab in Mexico. When that lab was identified and dismantled, the surge ended," DEA reported.

For more information on fentanyl, visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/fentanyl.pdf.

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