Fentanyl

Illicit fentanyl continues to kill tens of thousands of people annually in the U.S. In fact, this number may very well be increasing as the "fentanyl epidemic" continues unabated. But now a fentanyl vaccine – which could be of some use in mitigating damage – appears to protect mice from the drug. Will it succeed in humans and, if so, how might it be used?
Recent news reports have spurred concern that just touching fentanyl can be dangerous. Let's take a look at the chemistry behind this claim. Comedian Bill Maher recently attacked the fat-acceptance movement as a danger to public health, sparking ferocious criticism on social media. Sadly, few people recognized the most important point about Maher's commentary: he was right.
Cato Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Jeffrey Singer (also a member of the ACSH Scientific Advisory Board) has written a powerful piece about the inability of policymakers to realize that their plan to reduce drug overdose deaths is wrong on every level.
Since 2020 Dr. Roneet Lev has been doing podcasts called High Truths, most often about addiction and drugs. So, I was happy to participate in an episode about fentanyl. It turned into quite a bit more.
You can be blindfolded, throw a stone, and probably hit a writer who gets the opioid crisis all wrong. Today, let's throw one at German Lopez of The New York Times.
The term "opioid epidemic" is outdated to the point where the message conveyed is inaccurate. Also, every time the phrase is used most people will automatically think "pills." But pills are now a minor contributor to overdose deaths; it is illegal street drugs – especially illicit fentanyl – that’s (by far) driving the surge in overdoses. Substituting the term "fentanyl epidemic" would instead shift the blame to where it belongs, while going a long way toward halting the demonization of vitally important medicines. Words matter.
The story of what we call the "opioid epidemic" has been distorted by lies and deception, resulting in incalculable harm done to both pain patients and those who abuse drugs. The last thing we need is more anti-opioid propaganda. Unfortunately, an article in Healthline provides just this
New data have been published on drug overdose deaths in 2020. Although you won't find it anywhere obvious, prescription opioid analgesics remain only a minor (and stable) contributor to the record 93,000 people who died from drug overdoses last year.
Dr. Jeffrey Singer of the Cato Institute and a member of the board of scientific advisors at ACSH has written a piece that should deliver a devastating blow to those who maintain the fallacy that prescription opioids are responsible for the so-called "opioid crisis." Although this trend is seen nationwide, nowhere is this more evident than in Massachusetts, where fentanyl is found in the blood of 91% of overdose victims — six times that of drugs like hydrocodone or oxycodone. A must-read.
A recent NPR article discussed the business of fentanyl synthesis in China. But it's not just fentanyl. There is a cottage industry in making and selling some of the chemicals that are used to synthesize the drug. What would happen if some of the chemicals that are used to synthesize the drug were banned? Would this shut down its production?
Purdue Pharma will pay an $8 billion fine and shut down. Finally, justice has been served, though far too late for the thousands of addicted or dead Americans whose problems began with OxyContin.
We're a decade into the "opioid crisis" and some people still cannot understand that prescription pain pills are, at worst, minor contributors. Yet the war against prescription analgesics goes on. This time it's Elizabeth Warren (and colleagues) who just don't get it. The Massachusetts Senator is pushing the DEA to allow partial refills of pills to reduce overdose deaths. What a ridiculous idea.