Growing fentanyl crisis is leaving ‘trail of death’ in its wake, federal officials warn
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RALEIGH, N.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the drug responsible for the opioid crisis could be making its way to American streets for up to 12 years before it is considered safe.
In a report released Tuesday, the FDA said it’s analyzing the effects of fentanyl-laced products made in China — and that those products could be making their way here by the end of this year. The FDA also said that some of the drugs made in China contain undeclared impurities, which could make them unsafe as well.
“After all of our long and intense scientific work, we are now faced with the reality that the drugs that we have been investigating for years are going to enter the marketplace,” said Nancy Narvaiz, a top FDA official in the new report.
“It’s going to happen sooner than we thought, possibly within the next month or two.”
The report said that the FDA expects to receive and review 1,000 samples from China to start the analysis. Those drugs are not scheduled for release into the U.S., so the FDA will be using non-detect methods to evaluate their effects.
But the FDA said the drugs could be arriving in American stores starting as soon as early 2019.
The report states that the drug “has the potential to substantially increase the U.S. opioid crisis by decades, by introducing opioid painkiller-type drugs into the marketplace at an earlier stage of development.”
The FDA said this may cause a “trail of death” if the drugs enter the market too early. More than 40,000 people in the U.S. died from opioid overdoses in 2016, and over 100,000 died in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).