The epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses has become an increasing concern in the medical and law enforcement communities alike. One powerful painkiller, fentanyl, stands out from the others. Just recently, it was identified as the drug responsible for Prince’s death in April. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy determined that the 57-year-old music icon died from a self-administered, accidental overdose of the drug.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl, which is a synthetic drug, has 50 times the strength of heroin and 100 times that of morphine. According to the CDC, overdose deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids rose 80 percent between 2013 and 2014.
Although fentanyl and other opioids can be prescribed by a physician, the jump in fatalities is believed to be linked to the rise in the illegal manufacturing and selling of them. This has made them more easily accessible as a “street drug.”
Although it hasn’t been reported whether or not Prince’s fentanyl was prescribed by a physician, one medical malpractice attorney noted that fentanyl should rarely be prescribed to anyone who isn’t suffering from terminal cancer. That’s “because the potential for overdose is extremely high.” The drug is so strong that even a miniscule amount can be fatal because it can slow down a person’s breathing and heart rate. That’s why patients prescribed it should be closely monitored by their doctors.
Law enforcement officers and prosecutors at all levels take illegal possession and sale of fentanyl and opioids very seriously. If you or a loved one is facing charges involving fentanyl or other opioids, it’s essential to seek legal guidance. If someone is suffering from addiction, there may be more productive options than prison time, such as a treatment program. A Florida criminal defense attorney experienced in handling drug charges can work to determine what options are available.