4 years ago

Fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and novel synthetic opioids: A comprehensive review

Deaths from opioid use are increasing in the US, with a growing proportion due to synthetic opioids. Until 2013, sporadic outbreaks of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs contaminating the heroin supply caused some deaths in heroin users. Since then, fentanyl has caused deaths in every state and fentanyl and its analogs have completely infiltrated the North American heroin supply. In 2014, the first illicit pills containing fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and other novel synthetic opioids such as U-47700 were detected. These pills, which look like known opioids or benzodiazepines, have introduced synthetic opioids to more unsuspecting customers. As soon as these drugs are regulated by various countries, new compounds quickly appear on the market, making detection difficult and the number of cases likely underreported. Standard targeted analytical techniques such as GC-MS (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) and LC-MS/MS (liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry) can detect these drugs, but novel compound identification is aided by nontargeted testing with LC-HRMS (liquid chromatography high resolution mass spectrometry). Fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and other novel synthetic opioids are all full agonists of varying potencies at the μ-opioid receptor, leading to typical clinical effects of miosis and respiratory and central nervous system depression. Due to their high affinity for μ-opioid receptors, larger doses of naloxone are required to reverse the effects than are commonly used. Synthetic opioids are an increasingly major public health threat requiring vigilance from multiple fields including law enforcement, government agencies, clinical chemists, pharmacists, and physicians, to name a few, in order to stem its tide.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0028390817304847

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