WV among states witnessing high instances of fentanyl overdoses

According to the July 13 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Virginia is cited among 10 states witnessing overdose deaths resulting from carfentanil and other fentanyl analogs during July 2016 to June 2017.  The other highly rated states include Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs are increasingly involved in overdose deaths and new fentanyl analogs continue to be identified.  Carfentanil, the most potential analog detected in the United States, is intended for sedation of large animals and is estimated to have 10,000 times the potency of morphine.   It has recently been reported in an alarming number of deaths in some states, including neighboring Ohio where nearly 400 carfentanil-involved deaths occurred during July-December 2016 along with Florida with 550 such deaths.

The CDC issued a nationwide public health advisory about increases in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in multiple states, and in 2016 issued an update to that advisory to warn about increasing availability of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances being pressed into counterfeit pills, and the potential for broad distribution across the United States.

In July 2018, the CDC issued a second update highlighting the emerging prevalence of fentanyl overdose deaths are already straining the capacity of medical examiner and corner offices and public health departments.

The highly potent nature of many analogs, particular carfentanil, might warrant multiple administrations of the effective opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone, said the CDC.