The opioid epidemic continues to be a public health challenge across the country. Baltimore has not escaped the epidemic and with funding from the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Dr. Susan Sherman from the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, was able to publish a successful, quick and high impact research study on testing methods for the presence of fentanyl in street drugs.
The research published this week looked at three different cities, including Baltimore. One of the three methods used to evaluate the presence of fentanyl included using test strips to detect its presence. The strips were tested in laboratory settings of samples of street drugs provided by police departments from Baltimore, Maryland and Providence, Rhode Island. This inexpensive, $1 strip was 100% accurate in testing for fentanyl when fentanyl was present in the Baltimore samples by the Rhode Island State standard and 96% accurate when not present. The Rhode Island samples were slightly lower, at 98% accurate for testing positive and 90% when not present. The strip, much like a pregnancy test, reveals clear results and could be key to drug users not seeking fentanyl in their drugs and curbing the number of overdose deaths due to fentanyl in drugs.
The study was conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Brown University. Dr. Sherman did a 25-minute interview on WYPR. For an in-depth discussion and look at the study results, listen here.