New opioids spark deadly wave of overdoses in US
The use of synthetic opioids which are stronger than fentanyl has soared in Washington, DC, sparking a wave of tragic drug overdoses that appears to be growing, federal and local forensic analysts have discovered.
Examining used syringes throughout the US capital, analysts found that the use of two drugs, known as protonitazene and isotonitazene, has increased in Washington, DC. They fear that combined with the existing presence of fentanyl, opioids are fueling an increase in fatal overdoses during the past 12 months.
While it is not known how widespread the use of the two new opioids is, their addition to the ongoing drug crisis in American cities reflects the growing wave of overdoses that is not showing any signs of slowing down.
Warning of the threat posed by the influx of new opioids, Alexandra Evans, a DC analyst at the city’s public health lab, flagged how there are concerns the drugs could be resistant to existing life-saving antidotes used to combat the effects of fentanyl.
“We’ve been able to detect some really unique trends to D.C., like things that other cities aren’t really seeing,” Morgan Levitas, from the DC Department of Forensic Sciences, said, raising the alarm about the drug situation in the city.
The Center for Forensic Science Research and Education confirmed the potency of the new opioids. Addressing the situation, the center’s Alex Krotulski stated that they are three or four times the strength of the highly prolific fentanyl, which has been blamed as the key driver behind America’s record number of drug overdose deaths.
“The majority of them that we see are more potent than fentanyl – sometimes way more potent than fentanyl – which is really scary,” Krotulski said.
Data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the scale of the opioid drug crisis, finding an estimated 498 overdoses in the past 12 months in Washington, DC alone. The DC drug death total is larger than the number of fatal overdoses in 13 states and significantly higher than the city’s homicide rate.