KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Fentanyl’s Lethal Role In Sweeping Drug Epidemic

The powerful synthetic drug is causing scores of overdoses throughout the states, and its use with heroin is only spreading. Heroin is highly addictive, Bridget Brennan, New York's special narcotics prosecutor says. “You put fentanyl in there, and all bets are off.”

The Wall Street Journal: Potent Synthetic Drug Exacerbates Heroin Epidemic In New York City
Officials confronting New York City’s surge in heroin trafficking said the past year has brought a troubling trend—a large influx of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl, which has long been prescribed for severe pain, has played a lethal role in the heroin epidemic sweeping the country. Scores of overdose deaths have been attributed to fentanyl, which is often combined with heroin to make the drug more potent, officials said. (O'Brien, 3/23)

The Cleveland Plain Dealer: Spike In Opioid Overdoses Straining Hospitals, Rehab Facilities; Fentanyl Linked To Spiraling Crisis
On a grim night in March, calls for opioid overdoses streamed into police stations across Cuyahoga County. One was for a 34-year-old man in North Royalton; another was for a 56-year-old woman in Parma; and still another was about a 28-year-old man found unresponsive in Cleveland Heights. All of them died, and not one stayed alive long enough to make it to the hospital. (Ross, 3/23)

WBUR: Mass. Hospitals Seeing Surge In Heroin-Related Visits
Opioid-related hospital visits are “skyrocketing” in Massachusetts, with heroin-related visits jumping by 201 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to Health Policy Commission figures discussed Wednesday. Opioid-related hospital visits have increased from around 30,000 in 2007 to more than 55,000 in 2014, with non-heroin opioids accounting for the bulk of the trips, an analysis by the commission found. (Lannan, 3/23)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.