What is fentanyl, the drug that kills thousands in the world

Fentanyl, a very popular drug in the United States, has increased its consumption in Mexico in recent times, the Mexican government warned.

What is fentanyl, the drug that kills thousands in the world. Image: Pixabay
What is fentanyl, the drug that kills thousands in the world. Image: Pixabay

In the morning press conference from the National Palace, the Undersecretary of Public Security of the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection, Ricardo Mejía, warned that "it is a drug 100 times more toxic than morphine and 50 times more harmful than heroin" and that "it is invading the U.S. market, but also increasingly our country.

Fentanyl emerged after different population groups in the United States became addicted to opioids in recent years through prescriptions issued by pharmacists.

"An enormously large social group was created with opioid addiction, and that's where fentanyl appears, a processed chemical that is also used in medicine and is used as an anesthetic," said Hugo López-Gatell, undersecretary of Health Promotion and Prevention at the Health Secretariat. And he warned that this drug "has already escaped to illegal markets" in the United States and now there are "signs of its use in Mexico.

In terms of drug consumption in general, the expert noted that Mexico has had "rapid growth" since the 1990s, when it went from being a producer country for its northern neighbor to a consumer country.

"There are more than doublings per year in consumption, with several worrying phenomena," he said. For this reason, on Tuesday the government detailed its National Addiction Prevention Plan.

Seeking to differentiate itself from other strategies implemented by other governments, now seeks a comprehensive plan that addresses causes but also warns of the consequences.

According to Lopez-Gatell, it will seek to solve social problems that lead to addictions, while a media campaign will be conducted to warn of the dangers of drugs. It is also proposed to improve medical care focused on addictions and mental health, which is related to dependence on some substances.

In some of the country's municipalities, activities are already being carried out to discourage drug consumption among young people, including talks in vulnerable communities on healthy lifestyles, sports, culture, and psychoeducation about harmful substances.

"It is crucial that well-being be the most effective prevention mechanism. Where there is no well-being, where there is poverty, where there is a lack of opportunities (...) fertile elements are created for consumption, addiction, the penetration of addictive substances," López-Gatell said, justifying the strategy.

To this is added an unprecedented communication campaign, because according to the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, this will monopolize all the publicity that the government does in the media.

"To destine all the times, the spaces of the publicity of the Government and the official times for this purpose. It generates an oversaturation but we do want to internalize the issue in society, so that it is a subject of debate and above all to publicize this reality and transform it among all," said the president.

López Obrador was questioned about whether the national strategy proposed the legalization of some drugs such as marijuana, something he did not rule out. We did not rule out any other options. You can say: this is not going to work and what we have to do is legalize marijuana and other drugs, because that is not ruled out but we are seeing other options," he said.

Also, the government announced that by 2020 it will increase coverage for the treatment of hepatitis C, linked to injectable substances.

"Hepatitis C, because of its massive dimension and its connection with some addictions such as injectables, requires a public health approach," López-Gatell said.

What is fentanyl?

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic approved for the treatment of severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or tablets and can be diverted for misuse and abuse in the United States.

However, the most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are related to illegally manufactured fentanyl.

It is sold through illegal drug markets because of its heroin-like effect. It is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combined product, with or without the user's knowledge, to increase its euphoric effects.

Use of naloxone

Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid-related overdoses, including heroin and fentanyl, and is a critical tool for preventing fatal opioid overdoses.

Depending on state and local laws in the United States, the police may administer this drug.

Multiple doses of naloxone may need to be given per overdose event due to the high potency of fentanyl relative to other opioids.

Ovidio Guzman and fentanyl

Journalist Jorge Fernández Menéndez reported that authorities had been persecuting Ovidio Guzmán López, son of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, for almost a month.

The reason," said Jorge, "is that Ovidio controlled the laboratories for processing fentanyl in Culiacán, one of which had been discovered weeks earlier. This drug has been sent to the United States and has caused thousands of deaths in that country".

This Wednesday, authorities confirmed that Guzmán López is considered one of the main fentanyl traffickers to the United States and that's why the failed operation in Culiacán that concluded with his release was carried out.

Source: EFE

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