Research published in today's edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that illicitly manufactured fentanyl was implicated in the vast majority of unintentional overdose deaths in Ohio last January and February.
The study, led by researchers at Wright State University's Boonshoft School of Medicine, reported that more than 90% of the 281 unintentional overdose deaths in 24 Ohio counties in that period involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogs. Only 6% of the fatal overdose victims tested positive for heroin.
More than half of the deaths occurred in the 25-to-44 age group. In addition, the highly toxic carfentanil was detected in 21 of the fatalities. The National Institutes of Health-funded study used a liquid-chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry based testing method.
“The findings of our study highlight the urgent need to include testing for fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as a part of standard toxicology panels for biological specimens used by substance abuse treatment centers, criminal justice institutions and medical providers,” said lead researcher Raminta Daniulaityte, PhD, associate director of the medical school's Center for Interventions, Treatment, and Addictions Research.