The staggering increase in drug overdose deaths has been driven largely by the high prevalence of potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, in the U.S. drug supply. One tool to respond to this crisis is the use of drug checking equipment, such as fentanyl test strips.
Test strips provide people the ability to identify if fentanyl is in their drug supply. Fentanyl test strips are small strips of paper that detect the presence of fentanyl in different forms and within different drugs. Based upon the evidence-based effectiveness of fentanyl test strips in reducing overdoses, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Medical Association endorse the use of test trips.
There are several different types of test strips and public health agencies instruct people who use drugs. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health Department), CDC, and California Department of Public Health offer guidance on how to use fentanyl test strips.
Fentanyl test strips can be purchased online for a few dollars on websites including DanceSafe, BunkPolice, and Amazon. On BunkPolice people can purchase 10 test strips for $25. DanceSafe sells test strip boxes of one, 10, 100, 500, and 2,000. On Amazon, people can purchase test strips in increments of 1,5 or 25 strips.
Test strips are legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. In states where test strips are legal for distribution, residents can find test strips for sale or for free at pharmacies, public health departments, and harm reduction centers. To these specific distribution locations in their community, people should visit their state’s public health department. The type of program and price differs by state. Delaware operates a mail order program where residents can order 10 free test strips. Wisconsin allows residents to pick up free test strips at a designated location. Fentanyl test strips are free for all New Yorkers if they order the test strips through their partner provider. Nevada provides residents with a list of locations where to secure test strips. The National Harm Reduction online Naloxone finding resource also identifies physical locations in a community that offer fentanyl test strips for free.
Disclaimer: Public health officials urge you to understand your state and local regulations related to drug checking equipment.