According to a report by the Associated Press, the drug fentanyl caused more deaths in Virginia last year than any other prescription painkiller.
Fentanyl, a prescription drug 100 times more potent than morphine, is typically prescribed to cancer patients and those suffering from chronic or breakthrough pain. Breakthrough pain occurs when a person is taking an opiate pain medication but has temporary pain that breaks through the opiate barrier.
Fentanyl is now being manufactured illegally. It can be cut with heroin, cocaine or oxycodone and sold on the streets. Illicit users may refer to the potent drug as Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT or Tango and Cash. Street labs are much less likely to have safety controls put in place to protect against overdose. Just a microgram of fentanyl can mean the difference between pain relief and a deadly overdose. This may account for the rise in overdoses.
Read the full Associated Press report here.