Commenting on the research findings, Dr Prun Bijral, Medical Director at Change Grow Live and lead author of the report, said:
“As with any pilot study, the findings need to be kept in perspective and we should be cautious about drawing definitive conclusions. However, in spite of these important caveats, this research was carried out across each of England’s nine regions and we can therefore reasonably say that it does give us an indication of the possible prevalence of fentanyl, where previously there was an absence of data.
The data suggests that fentanyl is not only present in England, but may be more widespread than originally thought. Although we are not yet seeing a problem on the scale of the USA and Canada, there is no room for complacency.
We need to build on the work and efforts already underway across the public health landscape, from ensuring that warnings about the prevalence and dangers of fentanyl are adequately communicated and understood, to exploring all options to reduce the risks of drug-related harm including the optimisation of medication-assisted treatment to address problematic opioid use, and distributing naloxone, a drug which can save lives in the event of an overdose situation.”
Professor Tim Millar, Professor of Substance Use and Addictions at the University of Manchester, said:
“Although it is difficult to reach definitive conclusions on the basis of this preliminary pilot study, we think it is important to highlight the possibility that there may be more fentanyl in circulation than many people, us included, had thought. We’re in the process of planning a more comprehensive, larger study that will help to clarify these initial results.”