This month, Maryland will be distributing 66,000 test strips to detect fentanyl.
“These types of test strips are starting to put out into the field are really beneficial to harm reduction strategy, especially those who are under the grip of addiction,” said Nathan Harig, assistant chief of Cumberland Goodwill EMS.
The strips serve as a warning, changing color when there is a trace of fentanyl. The drug has been found in cocaine and heroin and is now the deadliest opioid, responsible for two-thirds of overdoses in the state.
“If they’re able to test it ahead of time, they might never have to see us, and that could be good. They’ll be able to stay alive and get the help they need through another pathway,” said Harig.
Harig says not only will it help those at the grip of addiction but serve as an extra safety precaution for first responders.
“They have a really significant use for first responders who might be concerned about the presence of fentanyl. I know law enforcement especially is very concerned about potentially being exposed to fentanyl,” said Harig.
But before these tools can be used in Pennsylvania, a change in state law is required. That is something the Department of Health has had conversations about.
“We have had discussions with the governor’s office about many different traditional home addiction efforts,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said.
Pennsylvania currently defines drug paraphernalia as any device used or intended for planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, testing, and packing drugs.
“I know Maryland had to go through and amend their laws, so, unfortunately, it’s a process and it does slow things down but these are the types of interventions and inventions that do reduce harm,” said Harig.