Southern Nevada Health District provides fentanyl test strips to the public to help save lives in the community
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 21, 2021
LAS VEGAS – As deaths from overdoses in Clark County have increased by 34 percent in 2020, the Southern Nevada Health District secured resources to distribute fentanyl test strips to the public and provide education and information to community partners so they can distribute them as well.
The fentanyl test strips are available through the Health District’s pharmacy located at 280 S. Decatur Blvd. The test strips include easy-to-follow instructions and are similar to reading an at-home pregnancy test. The test strips detect fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins and Brown University found that test strips were accurate and easy to use.
In addition to being able to detect small amounts of fentanyl, test strips meet an important public health need. People who inject drugs have expressed interest in having their drugs checked for fentanyl, and the availability of test strips along with harm reduction counseling and access to resources and treatment is an innovative public health strategy that can help save lives.
- Statewide Nevada saw a 55% increase in fatal overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020.
- Statewide overdoses among those younger than 25 years nearly tripled from 2019 to 2020.
- In Clark County deaths increased from 418 deaths in 2019 to 560 in 2020. This increase is primarily driven by illicit fentanyl.
- The number of deaths involving fentanyl deaths among Clark County residents increased from 81 in 2019 to 193 in 2020.
*Data are preliminary and subject to change.
Community partners and agencies who are interested in distributing test strips can contact the Health District for information and training through its Linkage to Action (L2A) program at L2A@snhd.org. The Health District’s L2A program launched in January with a mobile outreach unit. It is funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Overdose Data to Action program to prevent drug overdoses through education, surveillance and assistance accessing services to prevent overdoses. Staff members work to link people who are struggling with substance use disorders to resources and recovery services. The team also provides overdose education, Naloxone, and referrals to essential services such as housing, mental and behavioral health care services, medical care, and transportation.
“The availability of fentanyl test strips is another step in our comprehensive harm reduction strategy,” said Elizabeth Adelman, Communicable Disease Supervisor, for the Southern Nevada Health District. “This program can also serve as an opening to connect people to additional life-saving resources.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is highly potent (80-100 times stronger than morphine) and often illicitly manufactured. Fentanyl can be mixed with illicit substances (often unknowingly) to look like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine. More commonly, fentanyl is being pressed into counterfeit pills and sold on the street as Percocet, Xanax, or Oxycodone, which is contributing factor in the increase of fatal overdose.
The Southern Nevada Health District serves as the local public health authority for Clark County, Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mesquite and North Las Vegas. The agency safeguards the public health of the community’s residents and visitors through innovative programs, regulations, and initiatives focused on protecting and promoting their health and well-being. More information about the Health District, its programs, services, and the regulatory oversight it provides is available at www.SNHD.info.