Why Is California Distributing Fentanyl Test Strips?

January 18, 2019

California has spent $57,000 in the past year on fentanyl drug tests, according to news reports. But the test isn’t being used to determine whether a person has been exposed to the drug. Rather, it’s to test other drugs for the presence of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a notoriously potent synthetic opioid that’s 50 times stronger than heroin, according to the Los Angeles Times. Deaths specifically from synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, doubled from 2015 to 2016, Live Science reported in March.

As such, scientists and public health workers are concerned about the increasing prevalence of fentanyl in other drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. What’s more, most people who use drugs laced with fentanyl don’t realize that there is fentanyl in them, the LA Times reported.

Enter the fentanyl test strips. These strips were first designed to test for the presence of the drug in a person’s urine. But for the past year, California has been distributing the tests for a different purpose: to test for the opioid in other illegal drugs.