By Washington Post – March 13, 2019
The image above show a relative comparison between a lethal dose of the three drugs identified.
In May 2016, a group of national health experts issued an urgent plea in a private letter to high-level officials in the Obama administration. Thousands of people were dying from overdoses of fentanyl — the deadliest drug to ever hit U.S. streets — and the administration needed to take immediate action. The epidemic had been escalating for three years.
The 11 experts pressed the officials to declare fentanyl a national “public health emergency” that would put a laserlike focus on combating the emerging epidemic and warn the country about the threat, according to a copy of the letter.
“The fentanyl crisis represents an extraordinary public health challenge — and requires an extraordinary public health response,” the experts wrote to six administration officials, including the nation’s “drug czar” and the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The administration considered the request but did not act on it.
The decision was one in a series of missed opportunities, oversights and half-measures by federal officials who failed to grasp how quickly fentanyl was creating another — and far more fatal — wave of the opioid epidemic.
In the span of a few short years, fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller 50 times more powerful than heroin, became the drug scourge of our time. Fentanyl has played a key role in reducing the overall life expectancy for Americans.
If current trends continue, the annual death toll from fentanyl will soon approach those from guns or traffic accidents. Among the dead are the anonymous and the famous, including musicians Prince and Tom Petty . It is so powerful that just a few flecks the size of grains of salt can cause rapid death.