The opioid pain reliever known as Fentanyl has changed the face of the opioid crisis dramatically quickly. According to the CDC, 2019 accounted for approximately 36,000 people who died of synthetic opioid overdose. This number has spiked dramatically, with the same report indicating that there were 12x more synthetic opioid deaths in 2019 than in 2013. Essentially, this drug is changing the face of the opioid epidemic for the worse. But where did Fentanyl come from and how did it become so popular? As with many opioids, the origins of Fentanyl are more complicated than simply a drug that was invented for illicit purposes. Read on to see how this deadly drug originated, and how it is abused today.
Where Did Fentanyl Come From?
Today’s most dangerous drug started like many other prescription opioids, formulated in the labs of a large pharmaceutical company. Made without the slightest intention that it could be abused. Originally produced in the early 1960s by Belgian drug company Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Fentanyl was created specifically with potency in mind for the treatment of pain. The original researchers, led by Dr. Paul Janssen, succeeded in their attempts to make a drug that was 100 times more potent than morphine. It was studied for use in anesthesia and was later used for patients experiencing the most intense pain under strictly controlled settings.
Dr. Janssen had a difficult time importing Fentanyl from Europe to the United States. The Food and Drug Administration was hesitant to approve it due to the strong opposition of Dr. Robert Dripps, a leading professor of anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Dripps strongly opposed the drug because he felt it was too potent and had the likelihood of being abused, precisely the situation that this country is facing today. Eventually, with negotiations, Janssen Pharmaceuticals was able to receive approval of the drug in 1968. However, not long after, Dr. Dripps’ predictions came true, with the U.S. reporting the first Fentanyl overdose in 1972, only four years after it was introduced to our country.
Where Does Fentanyl Come From In Today’s Market?
Today, it comes from a variety of places. One of the most common places where Fentanyl comes into the United States is through Mexican drug cartels. They mix Fentanyl with any number of substances including cocaine, heroin, and acetaminophen. This mixing allows cartels to dilute the incredibly potent Fentanyl while increasing their profits. These mixes are also pressed into pills and sold as other prescription opioids like Oxycodone or even Xanax. This is an incredibly dangerous practice of mislabeling. However, the Fentanyl that goes into these mixes doesn’t originate in Mexico. Instead, it originates in small labs largely based in China. These labs produce small amounts of the highly potent drug. They tend to use the U.S. mail service to smuggle the drug into the country. Because the amount that comes in is so small, it is extremely difficult to locate these illicit packages.
How Fentanyl Is Being Combatted For The Future
As Fentanyl overdoses increasingly become part of the opioid epidemic, one has to wonder what is being done to prevent the spread of this dangerous drug? First and foremost, Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are incredibly hard to regulate. It’s even harder to make them illegal because they are lab-made. A skilled chemist can change one small thing in the makeup of the drug and create an entirely new drug with the same effects. However, as Fentanyl is increasingly being mixed with other drugs, measures are being taken to fight it. As the opioid epidemic enters a new wave, the awareness of the epidemic is also increasing.
Many documentaries, movies, and TV shows have centered on Fentanyl including major plotlines on shows like HBO’s Euphoria and Netflix’s Ozark. Additionally, people suffering in communities have taken to social media to warn others about cocaine and other substances that have been mixed with fentanyl. Ultimately, authorities and political leaders are just now beginning to understand the severity of this incredibly dangerous drug. While the situation may seem bleak, the most valuable tool in fighting the Fentanyl epidemic is available at the touch of a button. Researching this drug, understanding the signs of a Fentanyl overdose, and knowing how to administer the life-saving overdose reversal drug naloxone are three of the best ways that everyday citizens can fight the deadly spread of Fentanyl.
If you have developed a Fentanyl dependency, now is the time to get help. Fritz Clinic has over 35 years of experience with opioids. They are equipped with talented professionals to help you overcome your addiction. Call or contact Fritz Clinic today.