California is now paying for people to test their drugs for fentanyl

Los Angeles Times – As the death toll from the nation’s opioid crisis swells, California officials have launched an experiment: paying for people to test their drugs for fentanyl.

Fentanyl, an opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin, is responsible for a growing number of overdose deaths each year. Typically manufactured as a white powder, it can be mixed into other drugs such as heroin and cocaine without the user knowing, but with extreme consequences.

“Fentanyl can kill you at first use — that’s why there’s incredible urgency,” said Dr. Kelly Pfeifer, who studies the opioid epidemic at the California Health Care Foundation.

Experts are unsure why fentanyl is showing up in so many drugs, and it appears to be happening more often. Reported deaths from fentanyl in California tripled between 2016 and last year.

Amid the fentanyl epidemic, test strips that detect the opioid are growing more popular not only in California but nationwide, with New York state and several overdose prevention programs across the country already using them.

Read more at Los Angeles Times.

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Bags of seized heroin and fentanyl