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Number, Size of Seizures of Fentanyl Increasing in the United States

Plurality of seizures in West, with 77.8 percent of seizures in the West in pill form

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 13, 2024 (HealthDay News) — The number and size of seizures of fentanyl are increasing in the United States, with most seizures occurring in the West, according to a study published online May 13 in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Joseph J. Palamar, M.P.H., Ph.D., from the NYU School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues examined annual trends in fentanyl seizures using data from 2017 through 2023 for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas for the United States overall and by region.

The researchers found that from 2017 to 2023, there was an increase in the percentage of seizures in pill form in the United States, from 10.3 to 49.0 percent (adjusted annual percentage change [AAPC], 25.2), with a total of 115.6 million pills seized in 2023. There was also an increase in pill weight related to total seizure weight, from 0.4 to 54.5 percent (AAPC, 112.6). In seven of eight measures, the plurality of seizures was in the West in 2023, with 77.8 percent of seizures in the West being in pill form. Compared with the West, the Midwest had a lower prevalence of seizures, but there were notable increases seen in the number of pill seizures and number of pills seized (AAPC, 142.2 and 421.0, respectively). The largest increase in total weight of fentanyl seized was in the West (AAPC, 84.6).

“When examining shifts in illicit fentanyl availability over time and by region, varied measures of drug supply such as counts, weights, and formulations of drug seizures can help locally tailored overdose prevention and harm reduction efforts,” the authors write.

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