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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Fentanyl and analogs are now the leading drug-related cause of death

This report from the New York Times shows that fentanyl and analogs have overtaken heroin as the leading drug-related cause of death in the USA, which is not at all surprising if you've been paying attention to these over the last few years.
But it is frightening, and as the article points out, the numbers from 2016 are not even final and will more than likely go -up-. Another terrifying aspect to this is that fentanyl analog related deaths are most likely underreported as testing for said analogs is really in its infancy and not every known analog can be (or is) accounted for in toxicological testing. Not every postmortem toxicology case includes fentanyl analogs in the scope of testing, whereas heroin (detected in blood and urine as 6-acetylmorphine and morphine) and fentanyl are routinely covered in even the most basic postmortem toxicology testing panels.
To make matters even more dire, all signs point to increasing fentanyl/analog death numbers in 2017.

As I've said for a while now, this ain't your father's heroin. At what point do we stop calling it heroin and refer to the standard "heroin" product on the street as fentanyl?
It is also interesting to note that cocaine is making a comeback. Or the better realization may be that it never really went away. Cocaine related deaths have continued to rise over the last few years and have more than doubled since about 2010-2011. From this data set beginning in the year 2000, cocaine related deaths peaked in 2005-2006 and then trended downward until 2010 when they began to increase again. Cocaine deaths reached an all time high (topping the peak set in 2005-2006) in 2015-2016.

Josh Katz. New York Times. Fentanyl Overtakes Heroin as Leading Cause of US Drug Deaths. 09/02/2017.


  1. cocaine deaths may also go unreported. When a wealthy white guy drops dead after doing coke with his mistress, and he is over 50, they family may want to keep it as a heart attack

    Fentanyls were known as superpotent opioids since 60s, they sporadically appeared in US (they were far more popular in Baltic States) but did not take hold, they were too deadly and too short-acting compared to heroin. DEA was very concerned about fentanyls as far back as 90s. What changed the scenery was the opiod addiction epidemy due to Purdue Pharma improperly pushing oxycontin, and Chinese contract labs that entered the illegal drug trade via the designer drugs - spices and bath salts. Fentanyl and its analogs is the next logical step. Some of these compounds can be made in just two simple steps, within few days. The only complication is that the chemists have to watch out so that they don't overdose by skin contacts, some of the analogs like carfentanyl and 3-methylfentanyl are more toxic on weight basis than VX nerve agents. (Mossad was actually using fentanyl analogs for assassinations)