Fentanyl overdose has become a major crisis in the United States and according to reports, more Americans are dying of this drug overdose now than before. According to the website of Centers for Disease Control And Prevention, “The number of people who died from a drug overdose in 2021 was over six times the number in 1999. The number of drug overdose deaths increased more than 16% from 2020 to 2021.”
Fentanyl is a pharmaceutical drug that’s prescribed by doctors to manage severe pain. But the drug is also illegally manufactured and sold in the US. While a lot of the drug comes from Mexico to the US, the country is also blaming China for their ordeal. According to a Reuters report, the United States wants China’s cooperation to stop an illicit flow of “precursor” chemicals that are used to make fentanyl, which is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and is increasingly mixed with other drugs – often with lethal results.
“Across the country, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl more than tripled from 2016 through 2021, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tens of thousands of people die annually from synthetic opioid overdoses, government statistics show,” the Reuters report further mentions. Recently at the APEC summit in the outskirts of San Francisco, US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed China would stem the export of items related to the production of the opioid fentanyl, a leading cause of drug overdoses in the United States.
What Is Fentanyl?
A potent synthetic opioid drug, fentanyl is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic. According to a Reuters report, in the first nine months of this year, 619 people died of an opioid overdose in San Francisco, most related to synthetic opioids, compared with 647 such deaths in the whole of 2022, according to the city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. “It’s out of control,” said Mike Odeh, 36, a salesperson at a liquor store.
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug which is approved by FDA. It is being used as a painkiller which in medical language is known as analgesic and anaesthetic also like morphine it is a hundred times more portent which is why Fentanyl is being used in our anaesthesia during operations and in ICUs. Fentanyl, being an opioid drug, is a restricted kind of drug which can’t be given to every other individual,” shares Dr Kuldeep Kumar Grover, Head of Critical Care & Pulmonology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram.
Dr Grover adds, “Indiscriminate use of fentanyl for a prolonged period can develop into a dangerous habit. Drug abusers run the risk of getting addicted fast. If misused, this drug can have a lasting impact. After taking it, you will feel a sense of well-being – this is why this is a very challenging kind of drug. Fentanyl can cause serious harm or even death if used accidentally by a child or an adult who has not been prescribed it as medicine. The side-effects include breathing difficulty, rigidity in the chest wall, and cardiac decomposition, among others.”