The newest tool in the battle against opioid overdoses is an affordable test strip that can help heroin users detect a potentially deadly impurity in their drugs.
Sales of fentanyl test strips have blown up as a growing variety of overdose-prevention programs hand them out to individuals who use illicit drugs.
Though they weren’t designed for it, the test strips can indicate the existence of fentanyl in illicit drugs. Some health authorities question their precision, but they have actually proven to be so popular that some programs can’t get enough to satisfy the need.
The U.S. is in the middle of the most dangerous drug overdose epidemic in its history, and it’s been becoming worse. More than 70,000 Americans passed away of drug overdoses last year, a 10 percent boost from the year prior to, according to preliminary U.S. government numbers.
Growing varieties of current deaths have actually been credited to the painkiller fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs. The drugs are far more powerful than heroin, however, they are relatively inexpensive and increasingly have actually been cut by providers into street drugs without purchasers’ understanding.
Government companies have actually begun paying for the test strips and supplying them to needle-exchange programs. The state health department in California began last year, and the health departments in some cities– including Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio– have actually begun since then.
The strips sell for $1 each. Expenses can rapidly add up for groups distributing them since some people utilize drugs four or five times a day.
However, some other health companies have actually declined, mentioning uneasiness with the tests’ precision or doubt about whether someone would, in fact, get rid of infected dope.
Catherine McGowan an assistant teacher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medication stated, There’s been little research study on whether tests strips are an effective weapon versus the overdose epidemic.
The origin of the strips are for testing the urine of patients who have legally prescribed fentanyl for discomfort, as a method for physicians to make sure they are taking the drug, said Iqbal Sunderani, the chief executive of BTNX, the Canadian business that is a primary manufacturer of the strips.
The strips are certified for that purpose– and just that function– in Canada. They are not accredited for any usage in the United States.
A government-sanctioned facility in Vancouver that allows people to utilize drugs under medical guidance started providing the tests two years back. In 2015, health authorities there released outcomes of a study of more than 1,000 drug checks. More than 80 percent of heroin and crystal meth samples tested favorable for fentanyl, as did 40 percent of drug samples.
In 2016, a Canadian medical professional designed a brand-new method to apply them: by dipping them into the residue of “cooker” cups that heroin users prepare their injections.
In the end, drug users who got a favorable outcome were 10 times most likely to lower their dose, the research study discovered.
By: Mckenzie Santa Maria