This report addresses Pennsylvania’s 394% increase in the presence of fentanyl-related substances and non-prescription opioids in drug-related overdose deaths from 2015 through 2017, by providing a broad application of real-time quantitative forensic drug chemistry testing and analysis to better support drug intelligence and community surveillance goals, in order to support local overdose prevention efforts.
The authors of this report present their research study to address increase in the presence of fentanyl-related substances (FRS) and non-prescriptive opioids (NPSO) in drug-related overdose deaths from 2015 through 2017. The study used Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, as a pilot county; it created a quantitative, real-time forensic drug chemistry workflow that can be used to identify responsive strategies aimed at supporting investigations, connecting cases, and improving drug intelligence and community surveillance goals. The researchers’ second objective was to assess the validity and reliability of the workflow, and to evaluate its impact on case investigation and case connection, and in providing actionable data through longitudinal and comparative studies. To meet their research objective, the researchers asked and answered three specific questions: if it is possible to incorporate and standardize real-time quantified drug sample analysis into the existing case work protocols in a public forensic drug chemistry lab; what types of drug supply trends can be identified comparatively and longitudinally using real-time drug sample analysis; and can this information be communicated with public health and safety stakeholders in actionable ways.
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