If you see someone lying on the street, “under 50 and younger, assume it’s an opioid overdose and assume it’s fentanyl,” Dr. Roger Crystal told the nearly 200 people in the Paul Revere Middle School auditorium on October 26. “Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that can easily be laced into other drugs, such as Xanax, Adderall and marijuana.
“Fentanyl is appearing in other drugs and the person [lying there] was intending to get high on something other than fentanyl,” said Crystal who is frequently featured as an opioid crisis expert, which includes national TV appearances with prominent U.S. news media. He has testified at The White House, advising the President’s Opioid Committee.
Give that person Naloxone [NARCAN], because “if sufficient amount is given quickly enough than it allows normal breathing to be restored,” Crystal said. “Opioids kill more people than road accidents, HIV, and gun crime.”
Crystal, who is the CEO of Opiant Pharmaceuticals and a parent at Revere said, “The use of opioids is getting worse and one of the biggest health issues of our time.”
He explained that opioids, which include codeine, oxycontin, heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil are a class of drugs that work on the on the brain affecting the respiratory system.
“The person may not even know they are overdosing,” he said, because the drug affects the respiratory system, and the person stop breathing.”
“About 81,000 Americans died of opioid overdose in 2021. Fentanyl was behind nearly 90 percent of the fatalities,” Crystal said. “Fentanyl is longer acting and 50 times more potent than heroin.”
He was asked how long the drug takes to affect a person.
“Really fast,” he said. “It could only take a couple of minutes to kill someone. It depends on the individual, the amount and the method of ingestion.
“The general rule is really fast,” Crystal emphasized.
If someone is lying on the ground, they can be given Naloxone because even if it isn’t an opioid overdose, the drug won’t do any harm. He listed the steps to take:
1)Assume an opioid overdose
4)Put the person in a recover position (on their side)
5)Stay with the person until help arrives.
Crystal traced the current opioid crisis back to Purdue, the drug company that has now been dissolved after being held legally responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic.
The doctor, who worked for several years as a surgeon, specializing in ear, nose, and throat, head and neck surgery at leading institutions including Imperial College Healthcare, London and was awarded Membership of The Royal College of Surgeons of England, gave reasons why this epidemic got out of control.
He said that the drug companies said that oxycodone would not lead to addiction.
About that same time, physicians were also told that patients in pain had to be treated as a fifth vital sign, which led to more prescriptions.
Pharmaceuticals gave gifts to physicians to entice them to prescribe drugs.
“America is the only country in the world that allows drug advertising for people,” Crystal said, and noted that when opioid addiction was in its heyday, those who had become addicted could “doctor shop.” That means that they could receive prescriptions from numerous doctors.
Once a legal crackdown came on opioids, many of those addicted on OxyContin turned to heroin.
But heroin, is produced through poppies, and the crop has a growing season.
Now heroin addicts are turning to fentanyl, which is synthetic and produced in the laboratory – and can be manufactured 24/7.
Initially the drug came from China, but now is mostly manufactured in Mexico, and distributed through cartels.
According to Eddie Want, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security, in October federal authorities have seized more fentanyl in the Los Angeles area, than in all of 2019. Wang said there has been an increase in fentanyl over the last three fiscal years.
Crystal was upfront with the audience about his position with Opiant Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures NARCAN nasal spray.
“I have a vision where we will be put out of business,” said the doctor who holds a BMedSci in physiology and a medical degree from the University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom. He received his master’s in business from the London Business School.
Thank you for this. Where can Narcan be bought (nearby)?