Fentanyl can sicken first responders: Possible solution?

Dan Kallen, a detective in southern New Jersey, was searching a home with fellow officers in August 2015, when they found a bag of white powder. Kallen removed a scoop of powder for testing. When he was done, he closed the bag, and a bit of air escaped, carrying a puff of powder with it. It was enough to send Kallen and a fellow officer to the emergency room.

The drugs in the bag had been spiked with fentanyl, a synthetic drug that, like heroin, is an opioid. But it is 50 times more potent than heroin — even a tiny amount inhaled or absorbed through the skin can be extremely dangerous or deadly. Kallen described his experience in a Drug Enforcement Agency video that warns first responders of the dangers of handling unknown powders.

Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are working to address this hazard. In a paper published in Forensic Chemistry, they report that two technologies, Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) and Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART-MS), can detect trace amounts of fentanyl even when mixed with heroin and other substances.

Full story of Fentanyl danger to first responders at Science Daily

Drug Companies Seeking to Develop Less Addictive Pain Drugs

Pharmaceutical companies are working to develop less addictive pain drugs, according to the Associated Press.

Companies are researching drugs that target specific pathways and types of pain, instead of acting broadly in the brain. One example of this type of drug is Enbrel, which treats a key feature of rheumatoid arthritis.

Full story of less addictive pain drugs at drugfree.org

Drivers Killed in Crashes More Likely to Have Used Drugs Than Alcohol

For the first time, U.S. drivers killed in crashes in 2015 were more likely to have used drugs than alcohol, according to a new study.

The study found 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, compared with 37 percent who showed alcohol levels above a legal limit, Reuters reports.

Full story of drivers killed in crashes and drug use at drugfree.org

Some Opioid-Related Deaths May be Missed When People Die from Infectious Diseases

A new government study suggests some opioid-related deaths may not be counted when people die from pneumonia or other infectious diseases that are worsened by drug use.

In these cases, the death certificate may only list the infection as the cause of death, according to the researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Full story of opioid related deaths and infectious diseases at drugfree.org

First-Time Marijuana Use Among College Students is at Highest Level in Three Decades

First-time marijuana use among college students is at the highest level in three decades, a new study finds.

Among 19- to 22-year-olds who had never used marijuana by 12th grade, those who go to college are 51 percent more likely to try the drug than those who do not attend college, HealthDay reports.

Full story of first-time marijuana users highest among college students at drugfree.org