MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: For the first time in 2016, U.S. overdose deaths involving illicitly-manufactured fentanyl surpassed deaths from heroin and prescription deaths.
Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid, and an illicitly-manufactured form of the drug is regularly being mixed with heroin and often sold to unwitting consumers. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and its illicitly-manufactured version is extremely difficult to discern when mixed with heroin. Harm reduction organizations have started to distribute FTS and people consuming street-purchased opioids are using them to test drugs for fentanyl. Our objective was to assess whether this point-of-use form of drug checking was influencing people’s drug use behavior. The study was self-funded by the research institute RTI International.
Our findings show that consumers who tested street opioids with fentanyl test strips were five times more likely to engage in safer drug use behavior when the test comes back positive. The study was conducted among a group of 125 people who inject drugs in Greensboro, North Carolina.