July 6, 2017 – Opioid Crisis


Anchor lead: Some factors behind the opioid overdose epidemic have been identified, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Almost 60,000 people have died of opioid overdose in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate. Mike Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says one major factor is adulteration of heroin with a synthetic opioid called fentanyl, as well as related compounds.

Klag: Until we can figure out the problem of these analogs of fentanyl this is a problem that’s going to continue to persist. Heroin is being laced with fentanyl, which is a very potent narcotic analgesic. There are now these synthetic derivatives of fentanyl. Tiny amounts can cause death. And because its so potent it’s hard to treat an overdose. And the kinds of medications we us, Narcan, to reverse an overdose, it takes multiple doses of the Narcan to try to get this off.  :29

Klag says many synthetic fentanyl compounds are coming from China, and interdiction efforts have been lackluster at best. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.