Unfortunately, fentanyl deaths increased from 2011–2018, likely in tandem with a growth in drug trafficking from Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) in China, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean.4 According to a DEA report, a single kilogram of fentanyl can transform into $1.5 million for traffickers and prove deadly for up to 500,000 people.5
Fentanyl was first created in 1959 and began circulating as an anesthetic during the 1960s. Initially applied intravenously; doctors eventually developed a fentanyl patch applied to the patient’s skin.6 In recent years, fentanyl prescriptions decreased from 6.5 million in 2015 to 4 million in 2018.7 Fewer prescriptions are one way healthcare practitioners are trying to address the growing opioid abuse problem in the United States.
Since the 1990s, legal fentanyl has become a black market item. Around that time, opioid prescriptions began to increase, and with them came a boom in opioid abuse. The second wave of abuse hit the U.S. around 2010, and the third wave in 2013 proved especially deadly.8