By: Rachel Clark, DanceSafe Contractor
A round, light blue pill with “30” on one side over a score line was sold in Portland/Gresham, OR as Percocet 30mg, and tested positive for fentanyl using a strip test performed by the submitter. A pill from this batch reportedly induced an opioid overdose in a person who took it prior to testing.
Percocet is the brand name for a combination of oxycodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen (a pain reliever and fever reducer). Both oxycodone and acetaminophen are the “generic names” – or, chemical names – of brand names such as Tylenol and OxyContin, respectively. Oxycodone induces analgesia (pain relief), sedation, and drowsiness. Acetaminophen is non-psychoactive. It should be noted that Percocet (the combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen) does not actually come in 30mg doses, but plain oxycodone does. Checking the viability of the dosage of a pill sold on the illicit market is a good first line of defense against counterfeits.
The illicit market for pharmaceutical substances rarely produces pharmaceutical-grade products, meaning that substances like opioids, stimulants, and benzodiazepines are extremely prone to high levels of misrepresentation if purchased from any source that is not a pharmacist. Research chemicals and other unexpectedly powerful drugs are often substituted for drugs like amphetamine and alprazolam, and fentanyl is becoming increasingly prevalent in illicitly purchased opioids. When purchasing pharmaceuticals on the black market, testing is of exceptionally paramount importance.
Fentanyl is active in minute quantities, which has made it a nationally-recognized contributor to the opioid crisis due to its concentrated (and often accidental) presence in pills and powders. It is popularly believed that fentanyl and its analogs are fatal when in contact with bare skin; this is a myth that has been repeatedly dispelled through scientific channels. If you suspect that someone is overdosing on an opioid, you are not at risk of intoxication simply by touching them or breathing the same air as them. Fentanyl and its analogs are absorbed through mucous membranes – an added layer of protection can be achieved by washing your hands after administering CPR on a person who has overdosed. Skin absorption would require very large quantities of fentanyl to be in contact with the dermis for prolonged periods of time, or direct contact with a wound.
Since fentanyl is typically (if not always) distributed unevenly throughout a sample, it is essential to use proper dilution techniques to dissolve the whole sample in water when testing it with a fentanyl test strip (this does not destroy the sample – after the test, the water can be left to evaporate out over a few days, leaving powder again). Symptoms of opioid overdose include slowed or stopped breathing and heart rate, blue-tinged extremities, loss of consciousness, and often vomiting. If you suspect that a person has overdosed on an opioid, call 911, administer Narcan whenever available, and place the person in the recovery position (if they are still breathing) to prevent asphyxiation on vomit. If a person is not breathing, perform CPR.
We urge our community to keep in mind that drug markets are expansive and that this adulterated Percocet pill may appear in places other than its source and submission location. Using a reagent test kit can help provide a first line of defense as a presumptive (and not affirmative) process. Additionally, samples may be sent in to www.ecstasydata.org for in-depth laboratory testing. Test before you ingest to avoid taking misrepresented substances, and so you can adjust your intention, set, and setting appropriately to minimize risks. You can purchase fentanyl strips here.
The purpose of #TestIt Alerts is to alert the public to misrepresented substances circulating in their region. We neither condemn nor condone drug use, but rather want people to be aware of what they are ingesting so they can take steps to minimize risks.
Since 1998, DanceSafe has been keeping the electronic music and nightlife communities safe. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we provide free harm reduction services at music festivals and nightlife events across the nation. All proceeds from the sales of our drug checking kits go back into the organization so we can continue to provide our services to our communities for free. By purchasing a kit, you are not only helping keep you and your friends safe, you are also contributing to the harm reduction movement. Thank you for your support!