All forms of deadly opioid fentanyl illegal under temporary DEA order
All forms of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, including ones that have not been introduced to drug users in the United States, are now illegal under a temporary order this week from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The move is in response to an explosion of drug overdose deaths connected to the potent synthetic opioid that is driving an addiction and overdose crisis. Between 2012 and 2015, deaths attributed to synthetic opioids increased 264 percent nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, fentanyl was present in the bloodstream of about 75 percent of people who died from a drug overdose in 2017, compared to 27 percent in 2015, according to coroner and medical examiner statistics.
“By proactively scheduling the whole class of illicit fentanyl substances simultaneously, federal agents and prosecutors can take swift and necessary action against those bringing this poison into our communities,” DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson said in a news release.
Different types of fentanyl are being manufactured overseas and smuggled or shipped into the U.S. With a tweak of the molecular structure, a new form or analogue can be created. Fentanyl is being mixed with heroin and cocaine and can be packaged in stamp bags and sold as heroin.
The DEA's order makes illegal all types of fentanyl and different forms that may be created in the future.“Control of these substances is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety,” Patterson wrote in the order filed with the Federal Register.
The temporary order will be in effect until February 2020.