As the hysteria wanes from nearly three years of Covid-19, and the collateral damage from ill-advised lockdown policies continues, the return to normal is shattered by the harsh reality of data on the dramatic increase in Fentanyl death statistics in America.
According to current available research at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), www.Covid.cdc.gov, Families Against Fentanyl, www.familiesagainstfentanyl.org and, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl, there are now more daily Fentanyl deaths than Covid deaths.
Over the past three years, there have been four times wherein the death toll rose to 140% of expected deaths; April 2020, Winter 20/21, Sept. 2021, and Jan. 2022.
Fentanyl, introduced as an anesthetic agent in the early 1980’s, killed 730 by overdose in 1999, and 9,580 in 2015, reaching over 100,000 in 2021, doubling from April 2019 to April 2021, and has exceeded 100,00 deaths from overdose by September 2022, well over 70% of all overdoses, as reported in Statista.
The overall Covid attributed deaths totaled slightly over one million people; 75% over the age of 65; only 4.2% under the age of 45. There was an equal number of pneumonia deaths as Covid and virtually no recorded Flu deaths. The current daily Covid deaths are hovering around 300 a day, which is well within expected death rates for the virus du jour. There is no crescendo or increase. The infection has reached an endemic level where we and Covid will co-exist in perpetuity. Meanwhile the Fentanyl epidemic of deaths has increased exponentially with no end in sight.
The loss of usable productive years of life from Fentanyl deaths already vastly exceeds Covid, considering that most Covid deaths were in the old, non-working infirmed and chronically ill, while the Fentanyl deaths were disproportionately in the young opiate naïve. You may wish to callously disregard the overdose deaths of the chronic heroin addict, but that is not the demographic of the fentanyl deaths.
Fentanyl is a synthetic (man-made) narcotic and, on average, 100 times stronger than opium, from which all other known narcotics are derived, such as, Morphine, Demerol, Heroin, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and, Propoxyphene.
Fentanyl is made synthetically, and hence, is not linked agriculturally to the opium derived from the Poppy plant. Interdiction has been historically aimed at the Poppy plant fields as the plant produces only the L-dimer (active isomer) and as such was twice as powerful as synthetic opium, which in the lab yields only 50% active molecules.
At 100 times the strength, Fentanyl, easily avoids that economic yield problem. We have not developed interdiction methods for the precursors to Fentanyl, like we had for the Opium Poppy. We cannot just defoliate fentanyl from the sky, like we did opium fields with Agent Orange.
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Narcotics once were controlled by the DEA, physician prescription, and pharmacists, but much of that highly regulated business was ceded to the cartels and illegal street dealers with the great crackdown on prescription pain medication following the OxyContin Purdue Pharma Sackler scandal.
As such, the street drug market was left to compete in an unregulated space, steadily increasing the drugs’ potency to make it more desirable and addictive, and cheaper.
Additionally, Fentanyl supercharges all other narcotics, both recreational and hard-core. Marijuana, Xanax, Ecstasy, Cocaine, Crack, Ruffs, Valium, Hashish, and Heroin are all often “laced” with inexpensive Fentanyl to make them more marketable for the drug dealer. In addition, any sort of sugar pill can be imprinted or colored to look like a prescription medication, or even candy, but laced regularly with fentanyl, becoming deadly to teenagers feeling peer pressure.
While it is undeniably sad to lose Grandma an average of 10 days earlier than expected to Covid, the tragedy is far greater to lose a 15-year-old granddaughter who has 70 more years of life expectancy to one rainbow colored pill given to her at her first party. The politics of immigration aside, she is far too young to be an innocent victim of those policies. Soon enough, we will all know such a child lost.
The magnitude of the problem cannot be overstated. While “Deaths from Unknown Causes” are now the leading death certificate diagnosis worldwide, most likely reflecting vaccine deaths, they do not include “Overdose Deaths,” which are an easily made clear cut post-mortem diagnosis. So, while some may try to conflate these death tolls, they are clearly different and need to be analyzed as such.
The DEA and CBP report that only a fraction of the drug traffic across our southern border can be apprehended due to manpower shortages, yet Fentanyl seizures have increased exponentially. The assumption is that the seizures are merely reflective of the massive flood of deadly drugs arriving in the U.S. The truth is that a small hidden amount of fentanyl can cause widespread death.
The obvious truth is that we are facing a public health crisis that is many times worse than Covid was ever imagined to be at its worst. Yet, we do nothing except try to push Narcan into the mix, in schools and on the street. We are only at the beginning of this next catastrophe and no effort is being mounted to address the obvious near future.
From a data standpoint, all the outcome metrics clearly show poor results from the Public Health response to Covid. But with the Fentanyl epidemic, the simple calculation of lost years of life, regardless of productivity, shows that Fentanyl is collectively wasting well over one thousand times as many years of life as Covid ever did at its worst.
Unless drastic measures are taken immediately, the effects of the Fentanyl epidemic in the US will make the Covid response look a far distant second worst. Yet, both are self-inflicted.
Dr. Casscells is Director of Center for Health Policy at the Caesar Rodney Institute.