Vol 15 Edition 2

In Brief

Fentanyl: What do you know? Seminar video online

Alan Eade from Ambulance Victoria presenting at the fentanyl seminar

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid with an important role in the treatment of pain. However, at approximately 100 times as powerful as morphine, it’s a dangerous drug that carries the risk of fatal opioid overdose if used inappropriately.

Some medicinal fentanyl is diverted into illicit use, while there are also reports of fentanyl being illegally imported into Australia and then cut with other drugs such as heroin. Fentanyl is a key driver of the opioid overdose crisis in the US and it is implicated in a growing number of overdose deaths in Australia – as identified in Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2017 – a Penington Institute publication.

In February 2018 Penington Institute hosted a seminar about fentanyl with speakers including emergency paramedic Alan Eade, clinical toxicologist and emergence physician Dr Shaun Green and Penington Institute project lead Crios O’Mahony.

To view the videos see: penington.org.au/programs-and-campaigns/conferences-and-seminars

Update: NSW opioid inquest

Over the last few weeks there has been media coverage of the New South Wales joint coronial inquest before Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame, which is examining six opioid overdose deaths that occurred in May 2016.

This inquest is different to most in that it is allowing solutions to opioid deaths to be aired and discussed in a public setting. This includes looking at a range of public health measures including the purity testing of heroin and fentanyl. Council assisting the coroner, Peggy Dwyer, has said the results of the successful pill testing trial at the recent Groovin’ the Moo festival could prove useful. If a person buying heroin could test the product to see if it contained fentanyl they could obtain the knowledge needed to potentially save their life.

The inquest is also taking a close look at naloxone particularly the fact that naloxone nasal spray is not available in Australia. Ms Dwyer has told the inquest that naloxone may have been of assistance in at least two of the deaths being examined.

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