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How Strong are Synthetic Drugs?

A Deadly Dose of Fentanyl "Can Fit in Abe Lincoln's Ear on a Penny."

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Washington, June 7, 2017 | Olivia Hnat | comments
How Do We Keep these Dangerous Drugs out of the US? Pass the STOP Act.
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How strong are synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil?

  • An Ohio police officer recently overdosed after touching a small amount of fentanyl powder after a drug stop. "It took four doses of Narcan to revive him."– NBC News (5/15/2017)
  • "Fentanyl’s potency can cause respiratory depression, coma and death. Even a dose of micrograms, the size of a grain of salt, can be fatal." – Columbus Dispatch (4/23/2017)
  • Carfentanil is a "man-made opioid used to tranquilize elephants, polar bears, moose and other large animals." – Columbus Dispatch (3/22/2017)
  • Carfentanil "was never intended to be consumed by humans. But it has been used to kill and immobilize humans — reportedly, in assassination attempts and by Russian Special Forces in 2002." – NPR (3/11/2017) 


How cheap and accessible are these fatal drugs?

  • “Drugs dealers typically lace heroin with fentanyl… to boost profits and to give the drugs more punch, often with fatal results.”– NBC News (5/15/2017)

  • Drug dealers in New York “sold a glassine bag of heroin laced with furanyl fentanyl, which the alleged sellers called “White China,” for as little as $7.” – Wall Street Journal (3/29/2017)
  • While “a kilogram of Mexican heroin costs $64,000,” fentanyl “can be bought for as little as $2,000 a kilogram” from China. – Baltimore Sun (2/28/2017)
  • Fentanyl is “is cheap to make, with ingredients costing $358 producing an amount of fentanyl that has a street value of $18,000.” – Columbus Dispatch (4/23/2017)
  • “[T]he substances can be easily ordered over the internet, and dealers only need to mix a tiny amount into a batch of heroin in order to significantly stretch their supply.” – AP  (5/27/2017)
  • “In some Ohio counties, deaths from heroin have virtually disappeared. Instead, the culprit is fentanyl or one of its many analogs.” – The New York Times (6/5/2017) 

In short, synthetic drugs are extremely accessible, cheap and potent. Together that equals an extremely deadly combination. According to data compiled by the Columbus Dispatch, an average of 11 people died a day from overdoses from heroin and synthetic drugs in 2016. That is an increase from 2015 and Ohio is already expected to break that record this year. 

How do we curb these overdose spikes? As Rep. Tiberi said, we can do it by “stopping these drugs at their source.”

Right now, drug traffickers in countries like China are utilizing a dangerous loophole in our postal system to illegally ship carfentanil and fentanyl in packages through the mail. Tiberi’s legislation, the STOP Act, would close this loophole and require the U.S. Postal Service to collect information Customs and Border Patrol needs to stop counterfeit goods from crossing the border and being delivered to drug dealers in our communities. It is a common sense fix that has the potential to save lives.

To learn more, watch Rep. Tiberi’s video and tune in this Thursday to the Joint Economic Committee hearing on the opioid crisis.

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