YORK, Pa. — A new law officially in effect in Pennsylvania no longer defines fentanyl test strips as drug paraphernalia.
The state legislature changed the law to protect people who unknowingly buy drugs that have been mixed with fentanyl to increase potency.
“It’s definitely become more dominant in the drug supply over recent years, to a point where a lot of people who use drugs, have just kind of assumed that what they’re using has fentanyl in it already,” said Alf Dirosa with the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Network.
Fentanyl test strips are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl in different kinds of drugs and drug forms.
“Fentanyl is often in anywhere from cocaine to marijuana,” said Jessie Hoffmaster with Family First Health.
According to health experts, the test strips are a low-cost way of attempting to prevent drug overdoses.
“People can test their drug supply and make sure there’s no fentanyl, therefore avoiding [an] accidental overdose,” said Hoffmaster.
Organizations believe that by allowing people to know if drugs are contaminated with fentanyl lives can be saved.
“Knowing how much lethal fentanyl can be compared to other opioids, it’s really helpful at reducing overdose deaths and making people more knowledgeable about what’s in the current drug supply,” said Alf Dirosa with the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Network.
Health experts at Family First Health say they hope to soon be able to distribute fentanyl strips to the community.
“The hope is that having access to the testing strips, people can make sure that they are not accidentally ingesting this very fatal substance might help prevent overdose death,” said Hoffmaster.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 78% of the 5,343 overdose deaths statewide in 2021 involved fentanyl.