Fentanyl

The death penalty has become a controversial topic in the United States*. A large number of U.S. and European companies do not want their products used in lethal injections, which has sent state governments scrambling for alternatives. Oklahoma has recently administered pentobarbital, a drug normally used to euthanize animals, in its lethal cocktails.

An upcoming execution in the State of Nevada will pioneer yet another chemical: Fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that has played a substantial role in the surge of...

President Trump has convened a panel to address America's opioid epidemic. Its first mission should be to find convincing data to identify the actual cause(s) of the problem. That will be much harder than it sounds, since ideologues are always in plentiful supply.

Indeed, many influential people already seem to have a strong opinion about who is to blame. Claire McCaskill, a Senator from Missouri, points her finger at pharmaceutical companies. She is launching an investigation, but there is little need for one, given that she has already told us what its conclusions are ahead of time: 

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There are many good reasons not to take drugs. Other than addiction and the possibility of overdose, the next best reason is that, Walter White notwithstanding, neighborhood chemists aren't terribly trustworthy. It is common for drugs to be mixed with other chemicals, some of which are far more dangerous than the drug itself. 

The heroin epidemic sweeping the nation -- which has quadrupled heroin overdose deaths among people aged 25 to 34 and contributed to an increase in the overall mortality rate of young, white Americans -- serves as...

The overdose epidemic sweeping the nation is hitting some demographics harder than others. New data released by the CDC breaks down heroin overdose deaths by age.

As shown below, heroin overdose deaths began to skyrocket in 2010. Of all groups, older Millennials (i.e., individuals aged 25-34) are the likeliest to die from a heroin overdose. In 2015, the mortality rate from a heroin overdose was 9.7 per 100,000 for this group, which is more than quadruple the rate in 2010 (which was 2.2 per 100,000). 

 

This is a very shocking development. The overall mortality rate for Americans aged 25-34 is 108.4 per 100,000. That means more than one out of...

princeOn March 4th, 2016, I testified at FDA about the opioid addiction crisis in the U.S.

Other experts spoke about the obvious stuff — over-prescription of drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet, and gave their opinions about who was to blame — I was the only one who mentioned the most important cause of overdose deaths: fentanyl. You have probably heard of it by now, it is an extremely powerful opioid that is used medically for control of severe chronic pain and general anesthesia. On the street it...

BBIn 1985, a scientist in Delaware decided to make drugs with the goal of getting rich.

We didn't know it at the time but DuPont organic chemist Michael Hovey had ushered in the modern era of so-called "designer drugs" by cooking up a batch of 3-methylfentanyl in his lab. The batch had a street value of $112 million.

His choice was not arbitrary. It would be hard to pick a drug that gives you a better bang for your buck than 3-Methylfentanyl which, as you can tell by the name, is closely related to fentanyl, a synthetic heroin that is a legal but highly regulated narcotic...