Financial TimesFinancial Times

Fentanyl: America’s struggle to contain a deadly drug

By Jamie Smyth and Oliver Roeder

20 Feb 2023 · 10 min read

Editor's Note

Every five minutes, the equivalent of one American dies from an overdose of the synthetic opioid Fentanyl. The skyrocketing death rate has helped drive down life expectancy in the U.S. The FT reports.

Jaime Puerta remembers the last night his life felt normal. He had dinner with his son Daniel and they joked around while flicking through old family photographs. The next morning, the former marine found Daniel unconscious on his bed with ashen skin and a blue tint on his lips. What looked like half a tablet of Oxycodone, a prescription-only painkiller, sat on the 16-year old’s dressing table. But the pill was a fake and laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which is 50 times more potent than heroin.

“When the doctors switched off the life support machines, his mom climbed into bed beside him and I held my son’s hand as he passed away,” Puerta says. “This wasn’t an overdose because Daniel didn’t know what he was taking. He was intentionally deceived. He was poisoned.”

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