The opioid crisis in America is getting worse, leading medical authorities and companies away from opiates and into alternative treatments. A new level of the crisis has been reached with Fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic painkiller created in the 1960s, first as an anesthetic then later as a treatment for severe pain. In its legal forms, it is usually a lozenge or a skin patch. Since it has a high potential for abuse and addiction, Fentanyl has been listed as a schedule 2 narcotic.
When made illegally, Fentanyl is reportedly up to 50 times as powerful as heroin. It is also cheaper to produce, since it is basic chemistry and heroin requires land for poppy production. The National Center for Health Statistics is citing Fentanyl as one of the key reasons the number of deadly overdoses from painkillers is increasing, causing nearly 19,000 deaths in 2014. The Wall Street Journal has found that some areas, like New England and the midwest, have been hit even harder by the deadly painkiller, with over 5,500 people dying of Fentanyl-related overdoses between 2013 and 2015. According to the DEA, the drug is so powerful that even a small amount, 2 milligrams, can kill someone so quickly that first responders frequently reported finding victims with needles still in their arms.
The profits made from the deadly drug are its driving force, with the DEA reporting that a 90,000 dollar supply of Fentanyl diluted to make 10 kilograms cold yield more than $1 million on the street.