An organization dedicated to raising awareness about the lethal effects of fentanyl is urging the Biden administration to track deaths related to the synthetic opioid, giving attention to these fatalities as the White House did with COVID-19.
In particular, the organization is asking Biden administration leaders and related organizations in Washington, D.C. to count fentanyl poisonings and accidental overdose deaths the same way it counted deaths from the coronavirus.
Families Again Fentanyl is based in Ohio — a state hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis — and headed by founder James T. Rauh. The organization routinely communicates with families of victims of the opioid epidemic sweeping America currently and showing no signs of slowing down.
On May 10, a day the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has set aside as National Fentanyl Awareness Day for the first time this year, Rauh sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, making the request, as reported by Fox News.
“As you are aware, the synthetic opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities across the United States,” the letter states. “More than 100,000 Americans died by ‘overdose’ last year, and an estimated 70,000 of those were killed by synthetic opioid poisoning. As thousands more Americans die each month due to fentanyl poisoning, [we] urge action to ensure that detailed, granular, real-time, usable synthetic opioid fatality, non-fatal overdose, and naloxone administration data is readily available.”
We wrote a letter to the CDC urging them to publish detailed, real-time, usable synthetic opioid fatality, non-fatal overdose & naloxone administration data. Let’s act, not react. Spread the word, let’s make them pay attention.
Letter linked belowhttps://t.co/ZlGY24CMrW
— Families Against Fentanyl (@FafFentanyl) May 12, 2022
The letter continues by requesting that provisional fentanyl fatality data is made available and updated within six weeks of death, criticizing the current six-month delay that allegedly prevents experts from predicting trends and responding appropriately and accurately, similar to the way the current leadership in Washington tracked COVID-19 deaths. It also requests additional data on naloxone, a life-saving medication that reverses the deadly effects of fentanyl and other opioids.
“Our research findings reveal that fentanyl poisoning is a national emergency requiring the same level of monitoring accorded to the coronavirus,” the letter continues. “[Data] should include weekly updates on synthetic opioid fatalities by state, age, and race, consistent with the schedule of reporting of COVID-19 deaths.”
Fentanyl is the #1 killer of America’s Young Adults — and teen deaths are growing quickly.
But instead of tracking daily deaths, like Covid-19, there is a
⏳SIX MONTH DELAY⏳ for data on Fentanyl poisonings.
We are calling on @HHSGov and the CDC for real-time data NOW. pic.twitter.com/znBC2cJguM
— Families Against Fentanyl (@FafFentanyl) May 12, 2022
According to the DEA, Mexico and China are the primary sources of the flow of fentanyl into the United States. CDC data shows that fentanyl overdose and poisonings became the leading cause of death for residents between 18 and 45, in 2020 and 2021. Over 79,000 people died from the drug’s lethal effects during that time frame.
Additionally, the United States documented general overdose deaths doubled in 30 states over the past two years, with a recorded 100,000 fatalities between May 2020 and April 2021; 64 percent of those are from synthetic opioids, according to the CDC. Among teenagers, fentanyl fatalities tripled over the last two years, including a very high number of deaths among black teenagers, which increased five-fold.
Rauh lost his own son to fentanyl in 2015.
“These aren’t ‘drug users’,” he said about fentanyl victims. “These are just innocent people who are being allured to the temptation of risk for … excitement, like any young person. We’re pushing the government to give us real-time data…so they can’t ignore what’s happening.”
Along with physicians and some members of Congress, Rauh is asking that fentanyl be labeled as a weapon of mass destruction so punishments for distributing the drug may be strengthened.
“I think they should declare this a weapon of mass destruction immediately,” Rauh said, “and have our military intelligence go after them. We can break the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act and go after the perpetrators in other countries. We can seize money. We can stop ships at sea. We can have a real effect on the supply.”
Thus far, Fox News reported, approximately 30,000 people have signed a petition created by Families Against Fentanyl requesting the federal government declare the substance a weapon of mass destruction.
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