Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients. Because of its powerful opioid properties, Fentanyl is also prone to abuse by drug addicts. Fentanyl is often added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are purchasing fentanyl – which can result in overdose deaths. Clandestinely-produced fentanyl is primarily manufactured in Mexico.

In 2021, there were at least 106,000 drug overdose deaths reported in the United States. The majority of these deaths involved opioids including methadone, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl. And this number has been rising steadily. Opioid-involved overdose deaths rose from 21,089 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and remained steady through 2019. This was followed by a significant increase in 2020 with 68,630 reported deaths and again in 2021 with 80,411 reported overdose deaths. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that, when given ion time, can reverse an overdose from opioids—including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications. Naloxone is the most effective way to prevent overdose.

Pending Legislation: S.389 - A bill to deter the trafficking of illicit fentanyl, provide justice for victims, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (SD)
Status: Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Chair: Sen. Richard Durbin (IL)

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May 22, 2023
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