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At the center of America’s deadly opioid epidemic, non-pharmaceutical fentanyl appears to be finding its way into illegal stimulants that are sold on the street, such as cocaine. Adulteration with fentanyl is considered a key reason why cocaine’s death toll is escalating. Cocaine and fentanyl are proving to be a lethal combination - cocaine-related death rates have increased according to national survey data. This has important emergency response and harm reduction implications as well—naloxone might reverse such overdoses if administered in time. A recent study by Nolan et. al. assessed the role of opioids, particularly fentanyl, in the increase in cocaine-involved overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016 and found these substances to account for most of this increase.
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Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that new advice on their Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain will be published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
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This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the four research sites that will be receiving grants as a part of the HEALing Communities Study, which aims to test the impact of evidence-based interventions on preventing and treating opioid use disorder in key communities across the country.
“It takes a whole community to beat this crisis.”
- Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar