Fentanyl, in Italy overdose on the rise. "A dose of synthetic opioids even at 10 euros"


Fentanyl overdoses are on the rise. The potent synthetic opioid used in pain therapies under medical supervision, according to estimates, will be responsible for 19 thousand deaths from overdose in 2019 in the United States. – And it is also taking hold in Italy with figures that are alarming compared to deaths. From August 1 to November 20, explains Elisabetta Simeoni of the Department of anti-drug policies. "55 'overuse' and 76 fatalities occurred with death". The spotlight on the phenomenon in our country was the case of Andrea Zamperoni, the 33-year-old Lodigiano chef found dead in New York after a lethal dose of fentanyl in circumstances still to be clarified.The synthetic opioids spread illegally from 1990 to 2017 have caused 200 thousand deaths in the US, spreading in Canada and more recently in Europe, where overdoses are constantly growing in Great Britain, Ireland, Norway and Sweden. That the addictive synthetic substance is now easy to find is confirmed by Giuseppe Cucchiara, the central director of the anti-drug services of the Public Security Department: "The contrast to these new substances is difficult because minimum quantities are enough to be purchased online and sent by post "In Italy we are not of the epidemic as in America, but fentanyl is entering our market and we must equip ourselves. It is an extremely worrying phenomenon."

Drugs like drugs

The new psychoactive substances, such as fentanyl and the like, are "an emerging and constantly evolving problem. China is one of the main producing countries; from there they are sent to Europe. These drugs attract especially young people, the cost is accessible to all: a dose is bought with 10 euros. Repression cannot be the only solution, the contribution of family and school is needed ", explained the national anti-mafia and anti-terrorism prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho during the workshop on" Synthetic drugs and new psychoactive substances ", organized by the anti-drug department of the council presidency and the central anti-drug department of the public security department. Of course, continued Cafiero De Rato, "even organized crime has set its sights on these new substances that are sold on online platforms and can be found both on the web and on the surface deep web".

The online supermarket

Only on the web (and not in the "submerged" network) are at least 4200 psychoactive substances that we can "take home" coming from any search engine. A figure almost 4 or 5 times higher than the number identified by European and international agencies such as the UN resulting from Nps-finder research, the team – led by the professor of clinical pharmacology and therapy and primary psychiatry professor at the University of Hertfordshire Fabrizio Schifano and Alessandro Vento – who since 2017 has been playing around, browsing and digging on the Internet 24 hours a day and detecting substances evaluated by a team of researchers, psychiatrists, pharmacologists and toxicologists in search of duplication. To clarify the impact on health and the effects of addiction, these are drugs "up to 100 times stronger than fentanyl and 10,000 times stronger than morphine", explained Schifano regarding the latest generation of fentanyl derivatives.

Opioid and its derivatives

In the last 8 years "there has been a sharp increase in the mortality rate in those who used illegal substances", explains Ben Levenson, chairman of the Levenson Foundation who in the United States is working to reduce "human suffering through the application of new clinical strategies ". The drug production chain begins "outside of pharmacies, where supplies are contaminated with fentanyl produced illegally from China and imported into those same channels that cartels use to" enter America, through the southern US, heroin , cocaine, ecstasy "and all other drugs. For the illegal intake of this substance not only the usual consumers do not die. Illegal fentanyl, in fact, "is obviously mixed with heroin – continues the expert – but also with xanax, marijuana and various other substances". What does this mean? that to die "are not only the people dependent on this drug but also all those who use substances, once or twice a year". And having no tolerance to the product "it is easier to die".
It is necessary to speak of alarm regarding the illegal production of the opioid and its derivatives, taking into account that it is a drug of "common and daily use in all the hospitals of the modern world considered safe and effective", says Levenson: " When it is assumed and there is no tolerance for opioids, it is there that the mortality rate can become very high ". On the psychotic effects of the drug the news is that "we do not see psychiatric responses particularly different from those that can be generated with codeine, cocaine, heroin or morphine". But "Italy will be more ready, the expert hopes – now you know what to expect, you can learn from our mistakes and prepare yourself better than we do".

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