U.S. health officials advocate for fentanyl test strip research as more states embrace legalization

As the United States battles a record number of drug deaths, more states are legalizing a low-cost way to prevent overdoses. Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, has contributed to a significant number of overdose deaths, often when unsuspecting individuals consume drugs contaminated with this lethal substance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 75,000 out of the nearly 110,000 overdose deaths in 2022 were potentially linked to fentanyl. Fentanyl test strips offer a crucial preventive measure by allowing the detection of fentanyl in substances before ingestion.

Prominent public health officials are now calling for more research into how to maximize the potential of fentanyl test strips. In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, they emphasize the urgent need for widespread availability and legality of these strips. Despite the CDC’s endorsement of harm reduction practices, some states still consider these small paper strips illegal. However, the tide is slowly turning. Florida’s legislature recently passed a bill to allow the strips, and starting July 1st they’ll also be legal in Kansas.  These states join approximately 30 others that have formally decriminalized the harm reduction practice, including South Dakota, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

In South Dakota, Emily’s Hope founder Angela Kennecke testified in favor of the bill that made an exception to state drug-paraphernalia laws, allowing for the use of these life-saving testing strips. Kennecke shared her personal experience of losing her daughter to fentanyl poisoning and emphasized the potentially life-saving benefits of the testing strips. To address the urgent need for prevention, Emily’s Hope has partnered with The Link Community Triage Center to provide fentanyl testing strips to communities. 

Emily’s Hope volunteers put instruction stickers 10,000 fentanyl test strips

“In partnership with The Link, Emily’s Hope now has 10,000 fentanyl testing strips to pass out in the Sioux Falls area and South Dakota, and we are going to be doing that. We know that we want to stop all illicit drug use, but we know that people will still use drugs, and we want them to test it for fentanyl because we know most people don’t know that there is fentanyl in the drug that they take. We want them to utilize these strips to test their drugs until we can get them help,” Kennecke said.

Emily’s Hope volunteers put instruction stickers on 10,000 fentanyl test strips