The ongoing opioid crisis and fatal overdose deaths are impacting all aspects of American society. The coronavirus pandemic disrupted health care services and reduced access to substance abuse treatment and prevention services. As a world leader in serving science, Thermo Fisher Scientific supports communities with education and testing solutions to provide a meaningful impact to individuals affected by the crisis.

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How will false negatives or missed positives impact your lab?

With a surge in intentional and unintentional use of fentanyl, methods to detect fentanyl that exhibit high sensitivity, accuracy and reproducibility are increasingly important to address and curb the fentanyl crisis. In a comparative assessment of two commercial fentanyl assays, the ARK Fentanyl II Assay/DRITM Fentanyl II assay was identified as the clear leader, with superior precision and accuracy to save you cost and time.

Key performance indicators1,2

Comparison of performance indicators for DRI Fentanyl II Assay and Immunalysis Assay

Economic Toll 2020

Opioid use disorder has a huge economic toll on society
  • $1.5 Trillion Economic Toll of Opioid Crisis3
  • 2.7 million people > 12 years old reportedly suffer from OUD (Opioid Use Disorder)3

Opioid Epidemic

Increasing substance use to cope with stress related to pandemic
  • Thirteen percent (13%) of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use to cope with stress related to the pandemic4
  • Overdose deaths increased by 29% in 2020 and provisional 2021 data reveals a further 15% increase5,6
  • More than 40 states have experienced increases in opioid-related mortality during the pandemic7

Adolescent fentanyl-involved Deaths Reached Never Before Observed Levels

The subcategorization of fentanyl-involved fatalities increased from 253 in 2019 to 884 in 2021. Fentanyls were identified in 77.14% of adolescent overdose deaths, compared with 13.26% for benzodiazepines, 9.77% for methamphetamine, 7.33% for cocaine, 5.76% for prescription opioids, and 2.27% for heroin.8

    Fentanyl deaths

Fentanyls identified in adolescent overdose deaths

    Cocaine deaths

Cocaine identified in adolescent overdose deaths

Benzodiazepines deaths

Benzodiazepines identified in adolescent overdose deaths

  Prescription opioids

Prescription opioids identified in adolescent overdose deaths

Methamphetamine deaths

Methamphetamine identified in adolescent overdose deaths


Heroin were identified in adolescent overdose deaths

Polysubstance: A potentially deadly mix of stimulants, depressants

Stimulants: Methamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine, MDMA
Depressants: Opioids, heroin, oxycodone, benzodiazepines, fentanyl, tramadol, alcohol

Polysubstance Use is Commonplace

Polysubstance Use is Commonplace

  • In 2019, nearly 50% of all drug overdose deaths involved multiple drugs9,10
  • More than 250 American lives lost to drugs every day11
  • Polysubstance use can also involve prescription (Rx) drugs11

Did you know?

Mixing stimulants may directly or indirectly increase the risk to health issues
  • Mixing stimulants may directly or indirectly increase the risk of brain injury, liver damage, heart damage, stroke.11
  • Mixing stimulants and depressants may directly or indirectly raise the risk of brain injury, liver damage, heart damage, stroke.11
  • Mixing depressants can slow breathing and increase risk of several adverse health outcomes. Combining depressants can also directly or indirectly increase your risk of: damage to the brain and other organs, overdose, death.11
  • Drinking alcohol while using other drugs can increase risk of overdose and serious damage to the brain, heart and other organs.11

Cannabis Legalization

Increased drug testing can aid in identifying polysubstance use
  • More than 40% of Americans live in a jurisdiction where medical or recreational cannabis is legal12
  • Increased drug testing can aid in identifying polysubstance use

Increased Designer Drugs

Increase in designer drugs
  • Fentanyl and synthetic opioids – “fentalogs” (norfentanyl, acetylfentanyl, carfentanyl, etc.)
  • THC and Delta-8, Delta-9, Delta-10
  • Designer benzodiazepines – “benzo-dope” (alprazolam, clonazolam, etizolam, flualprazolam, clonazopam, and diclazepam)13
  • AB-PINACA, Kratom (mitragynine), Xylazine14, Benzamidazoles (“nitazenes”)

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1. Feng S, Rutledge TJ, Manzoni M, et al. Performance of two fentanyl immunoassays against a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method. J Anal Toxicol 2021 Feb 13;45(2):117-123.
2. Budelier MM, Franks CE, Logsdon N, et al. Comparison of two commercially available fentanyl screening immunoassays for clinical use. J Appl Lab Med 2020 Nov 1;5(6):1277-1286.
3. Joint Economic Committee Democrats: About Us
4. Czeisler W, et al. Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic. MMWR.2020;69(32):1049-1057.
5. CDC. Drug Overdose Deaths in the U.S. Up 30% in 2020. National Center for Health Statistics; July 2021.
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6. CDC. U.S. Overdose Deaths In 2021 Increased Half as Much as in 2020–But Are Still Up 15%. National Center for Health Statistics; May 2022.
7. AMA. Issue Brief: Nation’s drug-related overdose and death epidemic continues to worsen. August 2021.
8. Ciccarone, Daniel Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2021 - Volume 34 - Issue 4 - p 344-350 doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000717
9. O’Donnell J, Gladden RM, Mattson CL, Hunter CT, Davis NL. Vital Signs: Characteristics of Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids and Stimulants — 24 States and the District of Columbia, January–June 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020; 69:1189–1197. DOI:
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10. NCHS, National Vital Statistics System. Estimates for 2020 are based on provisional data. Estimates for 2015-2019 are based on final data
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11. CDC Polysubstance - About Us
12. National Conference of State Legislatures, May 2022
13. Novel Designer Benzodiazepines: Comprehensive Review of Evolving Clinical and Adverse Effects. Neurol. Int. 2022, 14, 648–663.
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14. Substance Use Trend Alert, August 2022, FADAA, Florida Behavioral Health Association 
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