A published article in Sunday’s The Herald reveals that fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug, has been detected in Snohomish County. While not detected frequently, the presence of the drug is worrisome for both police and health officials.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine or other opioid drugs according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently issued an alert to law enforcement agencies nationwide about dangers of the drug. A very small amount inhaled or absorbed in the skin can be deadly. In a video distributed by the DEA, two New Jersey policemen described their near death experience in handling the drug at a crime scene.
Fentanyl is often prescribed to reduce pain with an injection, through a transdermal patch or orally in a lozenge. Illegal fentanyl is distributed in powder, liquid or a dried liquid on paper form. And the DEA says that fentanyl has been included in counterfeit pills in the U.S.
A representative of the Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force was quoted by The Herald as recommending that anyone who finds a baggie of powder to treat it like they would a hypodermic needle. Sheriff’s deputies are being told to wear gloves, glasses and a face mask when they encounter an unknown powder. The DEA is recommending that police not field test powders suspected of being fentanyl, but to transport the sample directly to a test laboratory.
While fentanyl may not be as pervasive as other opioids or heroin in Snohomish County, its introduction adds to the danger those drugs pose to addicts as well as to the public at large.
National Institute on Drug Abuse:
Drug Enforcement Administration: