Fentanyl: The king of all opiates, and a killer drug crisis

From Jonathan Gatehouse and Nancy Macdonald:

Dr. Karen Woodall, a toxicologist with the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, regularly testifies as an expert in fentanyl cases. She first noticed the drug in 2005 in the autopsy files that cross her desk. She later traced deaths as far back as 2002, mostly via people overdosing after chewing cut-up bits of patches—a particularly dangerous practice, since there’s no way to predict the quantity of the drug in each piece. “The big problem with fentanyl is that a lot of people who aren’t tolerant to the drug are taking it. And if you’re not tolerant, it’s a lot more likely to cause serious toxicity and even death,” she says. “It severely depresses breathing and the heart rate.” Combined with alcohol or other drugs that slow the central nervous system, it becomes even more dangerous. “It’s a serious issue,” says Woodall. “We’re seeing more and more deaths.”

Full article here.