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Health district makes free fentanyl test strips available in Las Vegas amid rising overdose deaths

Opioid Epidemic Test Strips
Posted at 8:33 PM, Jan 05, 2022

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — With fentanyl driving an increase in overdose deaths across the country, the Southern Nevada Health District now offers test strips at no cost to the public.

The district says that the free test strips detect fentanyl, and its analogs are easy to use and similar to reading an at-home pregnancy test.

Fentanyl has become a national concern due to its potency and often undetectable presence. It is now the leading cause of death for adults ages 18 to 45 in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday.

In Clark County, deaths from overdoses increased by 34% in 2020. That's on top of a 55% increase from 2019 to 2020, according to SNHD. Among people younger than 25, overdoses nearly tripled statewide over the same period.

"This increase is primarily driven by illicit fentanyl," health officials stated.

ALARMING RISE: Counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl, overdoses in Las Vegas

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine, is often illicitly manufactured and can be mixed with other drugs without the user knowing. It's now being pressed into counterfeit pills and sold as Percocet, Xanax, or Oxycodone, "which is a contributing factor in the increase of fatal overdose."

Overdose Deaths
FILE - This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence in a 2019 trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP)

Officials said they are making the test trips available, along with harm reduction counseling and access to resources and treatment, as part of "an innovative public health strategy that can help save lives."

The health district is also working with other community partners to distribute the test strips. Those interested in learning more can reach out through the Linkage to Action program at L2A@snhd.org.

The agency said that free test strips are available to the public at the health district's pharmacy located at 280 S. Decatur Blvd.

MORE: CDC launches overdose awareness campaign, groups hope to expand naloxone access