Boston Is Using A Chemical Warfare Device To Help Fight Fentanyl

A small tool called the MX908 can test trace drug samples for evidence of fentanyl and other deadly chemicals, which advocates say may ultimately help reduce overdose deaths in an opioid epidemic.

13.10.2019

A machine designed to detect agents of chemical warfare can also test trace drug samples for fentanyl and other deadly chemicals. Public health workers wonder if it could help reduce opioid overdose deaths. (commonhealth)

A small tool called the MX908 can test trace drug samples for evidence of fentanyl and other deadly chemicals, which advocates say may ultimately help reduce overdose deaths in an opioid epidemic.

But can a machine designed to detect agents of chemical warfare help save lives in the opioid epidemic? That's the question Mackin, director of harm reduction services, and her colleagues at the Boston Public Health Commission aim to answer.

Sarak Mackin inserts the test swab with a trace sample into the MX908. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

"Oh yeah," Mackin says, nodding her head."So, there’s multiple kinds of opioid analgesics and multiple kinds of synthetic fentanyls in this sample that was sold as heroin. It’s kind of an example of what the drug landscape looks like here."

"That’s why I wanted it tested," Bri says."I thought there was carfentanil in it."

The MX908 detects the possibility of presence of fentanyl in a drug sample tested at AHOPE. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

"Now, they can tell people, 'just to let you know, there’s some really strong, killer stuff that’s coming out of,' let’s say, 'Copley,'"Bri says.

Green will evaluate this Boston trial run of the MX908. She says she’s especially interested in whether it brings drug users who avoid institutions and medical care into a setting where they might begin talking about treatment.

For Boston, the device was purchased through a grant from RIZE Massachusetts, a foundation focused on combating the opioid epidemic.

A fentanyl test strip is used to detect fentanyl in a drug sample. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

"Getting to that scale and that level of impact is a very costly endeavor," Scott says.

Read more: NPR

commonhealth The article talks about the $65k price as a disadvantage, but it seems like a pretty cheap price if it saves even one life. And this is a compact, sensitive mass spec that requires little training to use. Seems like a bargain to me. Although I wonder what calibration costs are. commonhealth I would like to see it used to create chemical fingerprints so patterns and tracing insights become visible.

commonhealth Great idea... test their drugs when giving away free needles... commonhealth lipiroy commonhealth since the Russians had fentanyl-like opioids (maybe even just fentanyl itself) in an aerosolized form back in 2002 during the theater crisis, it's actually probably one of only a few true weaponized chemicals used in the 21st century (Sarin, Cl, VX, a few blister agents in Syria)

commonhealth Problem will be solved if Fucking China would stop producing all the fentanyl in the world. It’s part of their plan to devastate the United States

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