Carfentanil has been detected in urine drug tests 35 times across 12 states in the USA this year, a large increase from the 1 case detected in 2022, according to a Millennium Health Signals Alert. Used in veterinary medicine as a large animal tranquilizer, carfentanil has never been approved for human use.
Carfentanil is a fentanyl analog that is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Carfentanil was associated with a significant spike in synthetic opioid overdose deaths in 2016-2017. However, detections of the fentanyl analog declined sharply with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“The results of our analysis add to growing evidence that carfentanil may be making a comeback,” Millennium Health Chief Clinical Officer Angela G. Huskey, PharmD, CPE, said in a statement emailed to Addiction Professional.
A Millenium Health Alert noted that as carfentanil-involved overdose deaths and forensic laboratory detections have begun to re-emerge, law enforcement and public health officials in some states have issued alerts about the presence of carfentanil in the illicit drug supply and its associated harms.
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