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

Majority of opioid medications not safely stored in homes with children, survey finds

Nearly 70 percent of prescription opioid medications kept in homes with children are not stored safely, a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds.

In a national survey of 681 adults who used opioid pain relievers in the past year and had children ages 17 and younger living with them, only 31 percent reported safely storing them away from their children. Among those homes with children seven to 17 years old, just 12 percent reported safe storage.

The researchers defined safe storage as keeping the medication in a locked or latched place for homes with younger children and a locked place for homes with older children.

Full story of safely storing opioid medication in home at Science Daily

Vast Drug-Distribution Network Originating in China Feeds Fentanyl to U.S.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has found that a vast drug-distribution network that originates in China is feeding the deadly opioid fentanyl to the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The network trades not only in finished fentanyl, but related products that are subject to little or no regulation in China or elsewhere, The Wall Street Journal reports. Some of these products are known as analogs, which are copies of fentanyl. Others include the chemical ingredients of fentanyl, as well as pill presses used to make the drug.

Fentanyl is an opioid legally prescribed for cancer treatment. It can be made illicitly, and is 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin.

Full story of China feeding U.S. with fentanyl at drugfree.org

Program Connects People to Treatment After They Survive Opioid Overdose

A New Jersey program immediately connects people to treatment after they have been revived from an opioid overdose with naloxone. Recovery specialists are contacted by hospitals participating in the program once an opioid overdose call has been dispatched.

The Opioid Overdose Recovery Program is run by Barnabas Health in two New Jersey counties with high opioid overdose death rates, CBS News reports. The program works with law enforcement and healthcare providers, including five hospitals. Grant funding is provided by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Since the program began three months ago, there have been 135 overdoses in Ocean and Monmouth counties, of which 30 were fatal. According to the Ocean County Prosecutors Office, about half of those revived with naloxone have agreed to go into treatment this year. Previously, almost no one who was revived with naloxone agreed to go into treatment, the article notes.

Full story of treatment after opioid overdoses at drugfree.org

Opioid Addiction Bills to be Considered This Week in U.S. House

The U.S. House is scheduled this week to vote on 18 bills designed to combat opioid addiction. The measures are expected to be approved, The New York Times reports.

The measures cover a wide range of issues. One would make it easier for physicians to treat patients addicted to opioids, while another would offer greater protections for veterans and children affected by opioid addiction. The bills would give law enforcement greater authority in fighting drug trafficking, and would require the federal government to conduct studies to evaluate the country’s capacity to treat opioid addiction.

One of the measures would require a study of Good Samaritan laws that are designed to protect people from liability if they use overdose reversal drugs to help people addicted to opioids.

Full story of opioid addiction bills at drugfree.org