Families across the country are mourning the loss of loved ones due to an overdose of fentanyl-laced drugs.
Now politicians are stepping in to legalize a once illegal method of testing for the presence of fentanyl.
Test strips are illegal in about half the country under laws passed decades ago. They indicate the presence of fentanyl in medicines by showing a negative or positive result.
Katie Schumacher, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says her brother died from a pill that contained fentanyl.
“These strips are really what will tell you what you’re taking and if it’s safe,” she said. “I absolutely think if these test strips were not only available but widely available, it could still be here today.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
According to the CDC, synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, were implicated in about two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in the United States last year.
Some bars have started providing customers with tools to see if their drinks are laced with the extremely potent substance.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, bar owner Jeremy Moore says his place is stocked with fentanyl test strips. He also has Narcan, a prescription drug used to treat overdoses.
“In bars and restaurants, you’re dealing with a variety of demographics and people from all walks of life,” Moore said. “Accepting that, but also looking at how best to put people in a safe position.”
Dennis Cauchon, President of Harm Reduction of Ohio, believes the test strips are the most important thing in saving lives.
“In Ohio, 11% of cocaine is fentanyl-laced, 5% is meth-laced,” he said. “So most of them aren’t, but what’s in there is killing a lot of people.”
This year, governors in New Mexico and Wisconsin signed legislation allowing test strips in those states. Tennessee and Alabama recently passed similar legislation.
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