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Psychiatr Serv. 2018 Jan 1;69(1):100-103. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2017 Oct 2.

Fentanyl and the Evolving Opioid Epidemic: What Strategies Should Policy Makers Consider?

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Dr. Barry is the Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore.


Major policy efforts are being aimed at combating the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths. In response to the epidemic, the medical community and policy makers have attempted to intervene; to date, these varied approaches have done little to reverse the increase in mortality related to opioid overdose. One factor that has complicated efforts to control overdose deaths has been the emergence of a public health crisis related to illicit fentanyl. The rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths means that new approaches are needed to combat the opioid epidemic, including adoption of harm reduction strategies. Specific strategies that should be considered as part of efforts to combat the opioid crisis include safe drug consumption sites, anonymous drug-checking services, updated naloxone distribution policies, harm reduction-oriented policing, expansion of evidence-based pharmacological treatments in criminal justice and emergency department settings, and stigma-reduction messaging emphasizing the risks of fentanyl.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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