Fentanyl Crisis Continues

by Nicole Jupe on April 26, 2017

Without the careful monitoring of a licensed physician, opioids can be deadly. The National Center on Health Statistics shows that in 2015 alone, more than 17,000 people died from opioid pain relievers, in addition to the 19,000 who died as a result of their use of heroin and other illicit opioids. In total, the percentage of drug overdose deaths involving opioids (25 percent in 2015) was three times higher than the percentage in 2010.

The prescription drug misuse epidemic gripping the United States continues to worsen in large part because of the influx of illicit opioids like fentanyl. In even the smallest of doses, fentanyl is a lethal opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. Its high potency increases the risk of dependence and overdose. Physicians prescribe this Schedule II drug to treat patients with severe pain and to manage post-surgery pain. Buyers shopping for painkillers can unknowingly purchase pills made with varying and sometimes dangerous amounts of fentanyl, heroin, and other opiates.

Richard Baum, Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), calls illicit fentanyl, “an urgent public health crisis” that is compounding the ongoing prescription drug epidemic in the United States. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids rose 72 percent from 2014 to 2015. Overdoses and deaths from this powerful pain medication affect all types of Americans including high profile casualties like music icon Prince in 2016.

In an effort to better understand fentanyl’s deadly grip, the CDC interviewed first responders and bystanders in Massachusetts. Seventy-five percent described overdose symptoms such as blue lips, foaming at the mouth, seizure-like activity, and unresponsiveness that came on within seconds or minutes after taking the drug. In addition, 83 percent of the cases in this research population required two doses of naloxone to revive the drug user. Injecting fentanyl was the most common way (occurring in 75 percent of the cases) that a person overdosed on the drug

Our government continues to gather data about fentanyl; however the majority of its information sources are limited to drug seizures. A recent ONDCP report showed:

  • 750 domestic drug seizures in 2016 involved fentanyl , representing a 26 percent uptick since 2015 and 250 percent overall increase since 2014
  • 33 kilograms of fentanyl were obtained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2016
  • 58 pill-making machines were seized in 2016
  • Seizures of fentanyl in direct shipments show purity in excess of 90 percent

Health officials, researchers, policymakers, and advocates continue to shine a spotlight on fentanyl to protect the public and to build greater awareness of its deadly threat.

To learn more about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

Celebrating True Dedication

by Steve Beller on April 24, 2017

The week of April 24th is a very special one at Quest Diagnostics. It provides an opportunity for us to celebrate our 30,000+ employees who work days, nights, weekends, and even holidays. These tireless professionals often report to work in the dead of night and remain at their stations even in the most inclement of weather. They are the core of our company, providing accurate laboratory testing for our customers. They are our lab employees and this week is Lab Week.

Quest Diagnostics lab heroes are not alone. They stand in proud company with more than 300,000 medical laboratory professionals throughout the United States who perform and interpret billions of lab tests each year. “Their jobs are demanding and the work they do genuinely makes a difference in people’s lives. Every day, we see their dedication to their jobs and to our clients, and we are proud to be able to recognize our lab personnel this week,” said Barbara Rowland, Director, Laboratory Operations at Quest Diagnostics.

To celebrate this week, we have a number of activities planned including: trivia, snacks, races, games, and contests. Like all of us at Quest Diagnostics, our lab staff works hard to show our clients that we’re there when you need us, and during this week, we’re looking forward to taking the opportunity to thank them for all that they do.

For more information about our laboratories, visit our website or contact us online.

Side-Effects of Quitting Marijuana

April 20, 2017 Drugs & Alcohol

April is a month when avid marijuana consumers, distributors, and marketers ramp up their efforts to reach audiences as they hype up the unofficial pot smoker’s holiday – 4/20. It’s possible that more first-time users will try the drug this year than in year’s past because of relaxing attitudes and increasing societal tolerance towards marijuana. […]

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2017 National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

April 14, 2017 News

An ambulance blazes by a sea of idling cars in the midst of evening rush-hour. Weaving through traffic, the EMT’s singular goal is to arrive at the emergency room as quickly as possible. The passenger is a victim of accidental prescription drug poisoning. This scenario plays out daily in cities across the country. In fact, […]

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I’m There: Roselyn Alviar

April 13, 2017 We're There

As a strong advocate for both clients and teammates, Roselyn Alviar jumps in to help out wherever she can and fosters camaraderie in the laboratory. She troubleshoots problems to maximize efficiency with faster workflows and consistently offers exceptional service. Together, she and her department always rally to get the job done right. In this month’s […]

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See the eCCF Difference for Yourself

April 7, 2017 Drug Testing

If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much a 3-minute video can say about electronic custody and control forms (eCCFs). Since we launched eCCF in January, clients have been asking for more information about how it works and the advantages it can bring to their regulated and non-regulated drug testing programs. The […]

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Drug Test Collections When You Need Them

March 31, 2017 Collections

Every accident is different, as are the causes behind them. And while the environment, human error, and equipment failures are frequent causes, all too often we also see the use of alcohol and drugs playing an influential role. According to the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™, the percentage of employees in the combined U.S. workforce […]

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Breaking the Cycle with Drug Courts

March 29, 2017 Drug Courts

Alice took her first drink at age 10, smoked crack and methamphetamine at 13, and was cooking meth by 15. Her first encounter with the justice system occurred at 13, and by her 30s, she was resigned to the fact that she was a drug addict and the rest of her life would consist of […]

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Cannabinol State Laws

March 28, 2017 Drug Testing

Chemically complex, the cannabis sativa plant, known as marijuana, has hundreds of active compounds and cannabinoids. Ratios of chemicals and potency can differ based on the age of the plant, the origin, and the method of cultivation. Some of the more well-known chemicals in marijuana include: Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): Primary psychoactive ingredient that produces a “high” Cannabidiol […]

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Series: An Exploration of Addiction

March 21, 2017 Blog Series

The term “recreational” defines as an activity done for enjoyment when one is not working. Skiing, knitting, sporting leagues, and book clubs are examples of recreational activities that can enhance our overall life experience. Recreational is also a word used to describe the casual use of mind-altering substances such as drugs and alcohol. Because recreational […]

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