Fentanyl Overdose

The increased availability of illicitly-produced fentanyl, fentanyl-compounds, and fake pills is an emerging and ongoing threat to public health and safety. In 2019, 51 opioid-related deaths were reported in Alameda County from January 1, 2019 to December 16, 2019.

Many fentanyl overdoses occur among persons who may be aware that they are using fentanyl or a related substance. However, there have been recent anecdotal reports in Alameda County of an increasing number of suspected fentanyl overdoses among persons without a history of opioid use, such as cocaine and methamphetamine users. Many persons who choose to use stimulants are unaware of the emergence of fentanyl laced compound drugs in the overall Bay Area drug supply, and the powerful potency of fentanyl. In addition, many opioid pills, which are made to look like real prescription medications, are now made by counterfeiting organizations and may contain fentanyl.

Death from fentanyl toxicity can be more rapid than from other opioids, and overdoses may require more naloxone for reversal than other opioids – prompt peer response is essential. In addition, there are concerns regarding the increase in synthetic opioid and fentanyl derivatives that may be longer-acting, and may not be detected in routine urine toxicology screens. This alert provides awareness and actions for all health care providers in Alameda County to take when presented with a suspected or confirmed opioid overdose case at their facility.

Please see the full Health Advisory for more information, including actions requested of clinicians.

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