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Fentanyl-contaminated heroin: healthcare professionals alerted to risk of fatal overdose

Heroin user injecting their arm

Source: Shutterstock

Public Health England has asked those who may be in contact with heroin users to be aware of the increased risk from ‘cut’ supplies of heroin

Healthcare professionals have been warned that some batches of heroin may have been mixed with fentanyl or carfentanyl, which are unusually potent synthetic opioids that can cause severe, and potentially fatal, toxicity even when present in small amounts.

In a Class 1 alert issued on 27 April 2017, Public Health England, the executive agency of the UK Department of Health, has asked those who may be in contact with heroin users to be aware of the increased risk of overdose from ‘cut’ batches, and to advise heroin users to be cautious when obtaining and using supplies.

The alert further recommends that healthcare workers be able to recognise possible symptoms of opioid overdose, and advises on how to respond appropriately if overdose is suspected.

Full details of the Class 1 alert are available via the RPS website.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202747

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