Fentanyl test strips could save lives

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 10:38 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Drugs laced with fentanyl is an issue that’s made its way to the Heartland.

Now some are urging for the use of drug test strips, despite its pushback from the law.

“Working with people who use drugs is the best way to keep people alive,” said Kristi Booth, Executive director of Recover Out Loud Harm Reduction and Recovery Services.

She said these test strips for fentanyl, a drug that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, can save someone’s life.

It detects the presence of fentanyl in urine post consumption.

However, she tells me using the strips after ingestion is not realistic.

“They would be dead before they could test their urine,” said Booth.

According to the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association, fentanyl test strips are now often used-off label to detect the presence of fentanyl in drug samples prior to ingestion.

However, under the Missouri revised statute 579.074, that would be unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

In September of 2020, we spoke with Mike Alford a undercover officer with SEMO Drug Task Force, about the deadly drug fentanyl.

Alford and his team were seeing something new, cocaine mixed with fentanyl.

“I just talked to a family member of someone that died here recently. A 17-year-old kid who thought he was taking cocaine and he ended up dying from the overdose. They weren’t able to get him to emergency personnel in time. Ya know it wasn’t right that he was taking cocaine to begin with, but he definitely didn’t think he was taking cocaine that would kill him, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Alford.

Over a year later, Booth said she’s still seeing the same issue.

Although the use of the strips before consumption is a crime it can be the reason someone does not die.

“We have to find ways to make it possible, because people are going to use substances until they decide they don’t want to or they want to try a different way,” said Booth.

Booth says they work with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to get Narcan and fentanyl strips into the southeast Missouri area.

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