By Colleen Walsh, Harvard Staff Writer

As the opioid crisis rages across the United States, people suffering from addiction as well as the first responders, doctors, and counselors trying to help them are facing another deadly challenge: fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 100 times more powerful than heroin and a growing part of the nation’s illicit drug supply.

The Gazette recently spoke with Sarah Wakeman, medical director of the Substance Use Disorder Initiative and the Addiction Consult Team at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), co-chair of the MGH Opioid Task Force, and clinical lead for the Partners Healthcare Substance Use Disorder Initiative, about fentanyl and the country’s opioid epidemic.


Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.  Carfentanil is a large animal tranquilizer that is on the order of 10,000 times more potent.  No wonder folks stop breathing and die if their latest “fix” was laced with just a little bit of the stuff!  There’s an article on this blog about a policeman who brushed some off his shirt and stopped breathing.

I doubt President Trump will leave this untouched in his efforts at healthcare reform.  Addiction will be a top priority for him and more importantly for congress which has to pass a bill to submit to him.  Currently the ACA covers addiction treatment; in the midst of an epidemic worse than the AIDS crisis I don’t think addiction sufferers will be left to die.

Dr. Raymond Oenbrink
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