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Fentanyl Crisis as a Poisoning Outbreak

In an LA Times Commentary and Blog Post, RAND authors Beau Kilmer and Bryce Pardo suggest the fentanyl crisis should be viewed as a poisoning outbreak, rather than a drug epidemic. In 2018, two-thirds of opioid overdoses included synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. The authors state, “for most victims, fentanyl was not their drug of choice. Rather, they were poisoned by dealers who mixed it into baggies of heroin or pressed into fake-opioid tablets.” Viewing the fentanyl crisis from this perspective may inspire a new emphasis on harm reduction approaches such as naloxone distribution and low barrier access to medication assisted treatment (MAT).