There's something in the heroin: an ultra-potent opioid found in drug-related deaths.
PHE ePoster Library. Nunez G. 09/10/18; 221257; 6
Gilda Nunez
Gilda Nunez
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Abstract IntroductionUnintentional deaths from drug use tend to affect people with poor health and may be avoidable. Carfentanil is an ultra-potent opioid that is not routinely tested for. Numbers of unintentional deaths from suspected drugs involvement were increasing in early 2017 that could not be fully explained by available drug screening tests. Testing for carfentanil and other new substances began and was applied retrospectively from 01 January 2017. Methods A case-series analysis of toxicology reports of all non-intentional drug-related deaths in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire from 01 August 2016 to 31 July 2017 was performed. ResultsThere were 60 deaths in total, of which 41 occurred from 01 January 2017. Carfentanil was tested for in 36 and was present in 15 deaths, of which 3 survived long enough to be taken to hospital. A local warning was issued and harm reduction leaflet distributed as widely as possible, in particular through needle exchanges and publicity through the local media. The last death where carfentanil was found was at the end of May 2017.DiscussionLocal intelligence from users from Her Majesty's Prison Hull and needle exchange pharmacists, and close working between the police, coroner, Hull and East Riding public health teams, toxicologists and Public Health England were important to our public health response.Carfentanil has been found in other areas and rising drug-related deaths are of national concern. It is likely there will be future clusters, we need to be vigilant to suspect and consider testing for carfentanil.
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