"Prescription fentanyl is fueling overdose deaths"
Confusing pharmaceutical fentanyl with illicit fentanyl perpetuates the idea that in order to curb fentanyl overdose deaths, we need to reduce use of fentanyl in the medical field. Not only does this narrative target the wrong population, those in medical settings, it may inadvertently limit access to life-changing pain care for those who need it most.
Rising overdose deaths are attributed to"fentanyl" without clearly identifying the difference between prescription fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
The Tired Narrative:
Overdoses involving fentanyl are indeed on the rise. But these deaths are largely due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl analogues, which are sold as heroin in illicit markets.
The Informed Narrative:
Be sure not to conflate illicitly manufactured fentanyl with pharmaceutically manufactured –– the latter being an FDA-approved medication. The overwhelming majority of fentanyl overdose deaths involve illicitly manufactured fentanyl and related drugs, which are never prescribed to treat pain and are currently the No. 1 driver of America's overdose crisis.
Legally prescribed fentanyl is typically given to patients to take home in the form of patches or administered before surgery by anesthesiologists. Illicitly-manufactured fentanyl is produced in clandestine laboratories and is consumed in the form of powder. It is typically sold as heroin.
Connect with Expert Sources:
Ryan Marino, Emergency Medicine - University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Stefan Kertesz, University of Alabama, Birmingham