Where Did Fentanyl Come From? - Ashland County Council of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

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Where Did Fentanyl Come From?

Where Did Fentanyl Come From?
February 21, 2023

Throughout the last century, medical advances brought about great changes in the diagnosis and treatment of a vast array of illnesses. It was just in the last 100 years that antibiotics, specifically penicillin, were developed. Blood types, immunology, and DNA discoveries also happened in the 20th century (MDLinx.com). 

Alongside all of these incredible medical advancements came new and better ways to treat and manage pain. Fentanyl emerged on the scene for this purpose back in 1953. Discovered by the Belgian doctor and chemist Paul Janssen, fentanyl was an attempt to improve upon morphine. Janssen believed he could design a molecule that was 100 times more potent but with a shorter duration than morphine.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that became the most widely used painkiller during surgery.

Despite its success as a painkiller, fentanyl and other opiates were far more addictive than what pharmaceutical companies let on. It turned out that Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson, made false claims about the addictive nature of prescription opioids.

Fentanyl, one of the most potent drugs, kills you by stopping your breathing. Just two milligrams—the weight of a hummingbird feather—can be a fatal dose.

What was intended to provide great relief to those who are suffering has shattered the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the last twenty years, and the rate of death just keeps growing. According to the NIH, there were more than 106,000 deaths from drug-involved overdose in 2021 alone, and fentanyl accounted for about 70,000 of those overdoses.

Unintended drug overdose (primarily from fentanyl) is the leading cause of death in American adults under 44, killing more people each year than car accidents, homicide, diseases, and suicide.

Although Janssen and the nation’s three largest drug distributors have reached an agreement to pay $26 billion to settle thousands of civil claims related to the deadly opioid crisis, rates of addiction and accidental overdose continue to climb, affecting more and more families across the United States. Despite the crackdown on pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug distributors, fentanyl is now being manufactured by clandestine labs in Mexico. It’s used to spike heroin or it’s pressed into counterfeit pain pills. Now, the U.S. reports a rapid uptick in fentanyl deaths in young children who accidentally ingest these pills.

Urgent action is needed to prevent prescription-induced opioid addiction and to make medication-assisted treatment of addiction widely available.

The current situation is grim, but it does not have to continue on this tragic trajectory. Connect with ACCADA for addiction prevention and recovery support so we can reverse this trend and protect the lives of our friends, families, and neighbors.

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Ashland County Council on
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

Phone: (419) 289-7675

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Ashland Location
310 College Avenue
Ashland, Ohio 44805

Hours: Weekdays 8:30-5:30, Weds. hours extend to 8 PM
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546 North Union Street
Loudonville, Ohio 44842

Hours: Thursdays, 1-5 PM

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In addition to our services in Ashland, we offer services in Loudonville. Our Loudonville office is at the Kettering Health Center, 546 North Union Street. We provide services at this location on Thursdays from 1 to 5 PM.

To schedule an appointment, call (419) 289-7675.