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Alarm over rise in deaths from synthetic drug fentanyl

© ShutterstockSynthetic drug fentanyl
Synthetic drug fentanyl

Deaths caused by the drug fentanyl are on the rise, an independent advisory board has warned.

At least 135 registered deaths in the UK were related to fentanyl – a synthetic opioid – in 2017, compared to eights death in 2008, according to the report.

The Sunday Post revealed last year that the number of powerful opioid painkillers prescribed by NHS Scotland has more than doubled since 2004-05.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) warned that there is an increasing risk of fentanyl or similar drugs being added to heroin sold illegally in the UK.

Drug users face a high risk of accidental overdose if fentanyl is combined with street heroin.

The advisory board has called for a full review of international drug strategy approaches to fentanyl markets, particularly in America, where its introduction to the heroin supply has been blamed for a high number of deaths. Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, chairman of ACMD, said the emergence of fentanyl onto the UK illegal drug market was of “great concern”.

Meanwhile, a Conservative MSP has urged Boris Johnson to make tackling the drugs deaths crisis in Scotland a top priority.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Annie Wells asked Mr Johnson to hold a planned summit on the issue “as soon as possible”.

The UK Government had announced it would bring experts together in Glasgow before Christmas but it was postponed due to last month’s snap General Election.