Could drug checking have prevented Prince’s overdose death?

Could drug checking have prevented Prince’s overdose death?

As the investigation into Prince’s death homes in on the source of the fatal fentanyl, some observers are suggesting that the United States explore a lifesaving strategy used in Europe: services that check addicts’ drug supplies to see if they are safe.

In Spain, the Netherlands, and a handful of other countries, users voluntarily turn in drug samples for chemical analysis and are alerted if dangerous additives are found. The pragmatic approach saves lives, proponents say.

Increasingly, users of street drugs don’t know what they’re taking, according to US law enforcement experts and treatment providers. Black-market suppliers are using cheaper chemicals to increase profits.

Cocaine may be mixed with the veterinary de-wormer levamisole, which can cause a painful, gruesome rash. Ecstasy may be a sometimes-deadly impostor called PMMA. White powder sold as heroin or pills stamped to look like prescription drugs may actually be the more potent fentanyl.

It’s unclear how Prince got the fentanyl that killed him or whether he thought it was a less potent drug. Lookalike pills discovered by investigators in Prince’s home were stamped “Watson 385” to mimic a common generic painkiller similar to Vicodin, an official close to the investigation told the Associated Press in August. On analysis, the pills were found to contain the more potent fentanyl.

Here is a closer look at the drug-checking services that proponents believe could have prevented Prince’s death… Read More>>

Source: STAT

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