Ky. attorney general wants fentanyl named weapon of mass destruction

Ky. attorney general wants fentanyl named weapon of mass destruction
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Health leaders say fentanyl has led to an increase in overdose deaths both across the country and here in Kentucky.

Now, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron wants the drug classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

Cameron has joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general calling on President Biden to respond to the record increase in overdose deaths related to fentanyl.

In the letter addressed to the president last week, they cite the CDC’s overdose data stating that in the 12-month period ending in February of this year, more than 75,000 Americans died from overdose of synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl.

According to the 2021 Kentucky overdose fatality report, fentanyl was identified in more than 1,600 overdose deaths of Kentuckians. That’s nearly 73% of all overdose deaths for the year.

“Fentanyl is certainly a threat. It’s a threat not just to Kentucky, but all Americans. It’s the leading cause of death for individuals ages 18-35, which is extremely scary,” said Pat Fogarty, the COO of Addiction Recovery Care.

In their letter, the attorneys general explain that classifying fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction would require the Department of Homeland Security and the DEA to coordinate with other agencies or parts of agencies, including the Department of Defense, about fentanyl.

They argue that “thinking about curbing the problem in different, new ways may disrupt what the foreign companies and drug cartels involved are doing or at least make it more expensive or difficult.”

“When you’re talking about any legislation that is going to crack down on a legitimate medical product, which fentanyl is, you have to be thinking about the unintended consequences of that,” said Chris Delcher, an associate professor at the UK College of Pharmacy.

According to The Hill, some leaders say changing fentanyl’s classification could cause problems, citing existing legitimate medical uses for the drug.

“For surgeries for example. If you’ve had an epidural or needed one for labor, you may have had fentanyl in your epidural, so you know kind of firsthand how powerful those can be for medical use,” Delcher said.

You can read the full letter to President Biden by clicking here.