America is in the grips of an opioid epidemic. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency due to the opioid crisis. Startling facts about that class of drug and its impact on American society from 2016-2017 include:
- More than 130 people dying of opioid drug-related overdoses daily
- 4 million people misusing prescription opioids
- 1 million people developing an opioid use disorder
Despite the extreme dangers associated with opioids, one of the most potent opioids in the world, fentanyl, is still prescribed and administered to patients in the U.S. In fact, fentanyl is even administered to patients in the form of patches, which are adhered to the skin and provide a steady dosage of the drug, which is 80 times more powerful than morphine, throughout the day.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the amount of fentanyl in even the lowest-strength pain patches is enough to cause dangerous side effects, including respiratory depression that could lead to death. Many manufacturers have recalled fentanyl pain patches, but they’re still given to patients suffering from pain.