BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Health experts in Maryland are celebrating the arrival of a new tool in the fight against Fentanyl.
A two-inch Fentanyl test strip is hoping to alter the outcome of Maryland’s growing opioid crisis.
“This is recognizing that people are using drugs and that that’s a reality and as a result, tragically, people are dying,” Fran Phillips, Deputy Secretary for Public Health, said. “We lose about 45 Marylanders every week.”
Phillips is on the front lines of an effort that will distribute 60-thousand Fentanyl test strips across the state.
This will allow drug users to test their drugs for the presence of the more potent and more deadly Fentanyl.
“We’ve seen that when people have the information, they know that there’s fentanyl in that drug, they behave differently,” Phillips said. “They may take less of it, they may consume it more slowly.”
The strips test any street drug by adding a small amount of powder to a cup of water. The strip sits for five minutes and will tell you if Fentanyl is present.
Gina DeMaria has made it her life’s mission to help drug users after her son, Anthony, died of an overdose.
Her nonprofit has distributed thousands of these test strips.
“It is so out of control that we’ve got to try to keep them alive,” DeMaria said. “We’ve got to keep them alive. If we keep them alive, there’s hope for recovery.”
Fentanyl deaths in Maryland have doubled since 2016, killing almost 1,500 people in only the first nine months of last year.
“When people come in asking for this, this is an opportunity to have a conversation, to have counseling, to offer Narcan, also known as Naloxone, and to really work with people, get a relationship going,” Phillips said.
The rollout of these products has started across the state and they will be available by the end of the month.