Use of fentanyl, a synthetic and lethal opioid, has become a growing public health crisis in Philadelphia and other cities across the United States. Fentanyl -- which is cheaper to produce than heroin and more addictive -- has drenched much of the heroin and "crack" cocaine drug supply and was found in nearly 85 percent of Philadelphia's 1,217 overdoses in 2017.
In the cluster described in the letter, all 18 patients who arrived at Penn Medicine emergency departments via EMS transport had substance-use disorders, but none had used opioids previously. Exposure to fentanyl poses risks of severe respiratory depression and death, especially among patients without opioid tolerance.
Outbreak - Problem - Fentanyl - City - Jeanmarie
"This outbreak is indicative of a larger problem with fentanyl in the city that we need to continue to quickly act on," said Jeanmarie Perrone, MD, a professor of Emergency Medicine and director of the division of Medical Toxicology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "As demonstrated by this cluster, fentanyl overdoses are the leading cause of illness and death associated with opioid overdoses, which highlights the need for more testing strips that tell a user if their drug supply is tainted."
"Having these strips for people who inject drugs is important in curtailing unintentional fentanyl use and reducing the risk of overdose in those who intend to use it," she added. "They can influence people to use less, take slower injections, or not use alone."
Drug - Naloxone - Patients
The overdose-reversal drug naloxone was administered to the patients, most of who received...
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