New fentanyl test strips could prevent overdose deaths

MARYLAND – A controversial new tool is emerging that could help decrease the number of overdose deaths in our country.

The tool is a small strip that can help people detect when fentanyl is present in their drugs.

It’s works like a pregnancy test, but in reverse.

A user can dip it into the residue of cooked heroin, or into a mixture of a drug combined with water, and then if the strip comes out with one line, that means it’s laced with fentanyl. If it comes out with two lines, there is no fentanyl in it.

While some worry this product could encourage people to keep using, others say any way we can prevent death is worthwhile.

Dr. Finegan, the Director of Peninsula Addiction Services in Salisbury said, “This is a tool that will allow individuals to take a step back and say, ‘This has fentanyl, this may kill me.'”

Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous drug that dealers sometimes lace into opioids to get people hooked, an act that often has deadly consequences.

In the first half of 2018, fentanyl was responsible for about 87% of opioid overdose deaths in Maryland alone.

Dr. Finegan said, “Fentanyl has become a primary factor in drug related deaths associated with opiates.” He continued to say, “These new test strips are just another tool in the arsenal that we’re trying to use in the country to help combat this deadly epidemic that has taken more than 1,100 lives in first half of 2018 in the state of Maryland.”

Some worry the strips could have adverse effects.

Lt. Tim Robinson with the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office said, “The con would be that it’s going to have a lot of people think that heroin is safe, when it really isn’t to begin with. I mean, it’s still an illegal substance.”

It seems everyone can agree on one thing: getting to the root of the problem should be everyone’s main priority.

Dr. Finegan said, “If you get good care, from responsible and ethical providers, you can have a life and your family can get you back.”

On Monday, 47ABC spoke with the Wicomico County Health Department and they told us they are working on getting these testing strips so they can distribute them to people in need.

We’re told certain agencies and organizations across the bridge in Maryland are already giving the strips out.

Categories: Local News, Maryland