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ASPPH News

Public Health Reports: The Rapid Escalation of Fentanyl in Illicit Drug Evidence in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 2010 – 2016

In a recent article in Public Health Reports, Ms. Kathleen Creppage and Drs. Jeanine Buchanich, Thomas Songer, Stephen Wisniewski, and Anthony Fabio from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and Mr. Joshua Yohannan and Dr. Karl Williams from Allegheny County Medical Examiner Office studied the change in the presence of fentanyl in “stamp bag” drug evidence in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, from 2010 through 2016. Stamp bags are small wax packets with individual stamps that contain mixtures of drugs, most commonly heroin, that law enforcement officers seize and retain as legal evidence. Authors compiled laboratory test results of stamp bags from the drug chemistry laboratory of the Allegheny County Office of the County Medical Examiner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They found that the proportion of stamp bags containing fentanyl or a fentanyl analog rose sharply from 2014 to 2016. Authors conclude that monitoring the chemical makeup of drug evidence items could help public health authorities identify drug use trends in their jurisdictions.

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Public Health Reports is the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service and has been published since 1878. It is published bimonthly, plus supplement issues, through an official agreement with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. The journal is peer-reviewed and publishes original research and commentaries in the areas of public health practice and methodology, original research, public health law, and public health schools and teaching. Issues contain regular commentaries by the U.S. Surgeon General and executives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health.

The journal focuses upon such topics as tobacco control, teenage violence, occupational disease and injury, immunization, drug policy, lead screening, health disparities, and many other key and emerging public health issues. In addition to the six regular issues, PHR produces supplemental issues approximately 2 – 5 times per year which focus on specific topics that are of particular interest to our readership. The journal’s contributors are on the front line of public health and they present their work in a readable and accessible format.

Visit the Public Health Reports homepage for more information about the journal.