The authorities’s high habit scientists and key public well being officers are calling for extra analysis into fentanyl check strips.
Amid a devastating overdose epidemic, the U.S. should make sure that check strips are authorized and broadly accessible, the officers wrote in a New England Journal of Medication perspective revealed Saturday. Moreover, they argued, the U.S. ought to work to develop new merchandise and applied sciences that facilitate drug-checking.
The article’s authors included Nora Volkow, the director of the Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse; Robert Califf, the commissioner of the Meals and Drug Administration; and Lawrence Tabak, the appearing director of the Nationwide Institutes of Well being.
Drug-checking, an more and more widespread harm-reduction tactic, includes testing a provide of illicit medication to find out its contents. Lately, as fentanyl has come to infect a lot of the illicit drug provide within the U.S., the technique has change into a essential part of overdose-prevention efforts.
Whereas most states as soon as labeled drug testing strips as unlawful paraphernalia, fentanyl check strips at the moment are authorized in a big majority of states. Extra just lately, BTNX, a Canadian firm that sells fentanyl check strips, additionally launched strips used to check for xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer that’s more and more current within the U.S. opioid provide.
Whereas fentanyl check strips are extremely efficient and seen as a key part of U.S. harm-reduction efforts, the authors wrote, there was little analysis on the right way to maximize their potential makes use of. Additionally they referred to as for utilizing check strips not only for prevention, however for medical functions, too.
Presently, check strips are primarily used to check drug samples to find out whether or not they comprise fentanyl, permitting drug customers to make knowledgeable selections about whether or not, and the way a lot, to devour. The researchers, nonetheless, additionally referred to as for creating fast fentanyl testing merchandise that may very well be used on urine and hair, arguing that “the flexibility to make use of fentanyl check strips on human specimens in medical settings could be beneficial for supporting on-site medical determination making.”
General acceptance of drug-checking is on the rise. Past fentanyl check strips, quite a few cities and native well being departments have begun to make use of extra superior applied sciences, like spectrometers, not simply to detect whether or not fentanyl is current but in addition to measure precisely how a lot.
Individually, the Biden administration issued steering in 2021 clarifying that grants issued by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Psychological Well being Companies Administration can be utilized to buy check strips, amongst different harm-reduction instruments.
“With new reviews about further dangerous contaminants, comparable to xylazine, in illicit medication, it has change into clear that drug-checking practices require cautious consideration,” the authors wrote. “It’s essential to encourage implementation of such promising practices whereas supporting analysis on implementation and growth of further drug-checking approaches.”
STAT’s protection of power well being points is supported by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Our monetary supporters usually are not concerned in any selections about our journalism.