Deadly Drug Fentanyl Claims Victims in the Czech Republic

In the United States, it has dominated the drug scene for years, responsible for thousands of deaths. We’re talking about the synthetic opioid Fentanyl, which has also entered the Czech Republic.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid often disguised in colorful pills, is used for pain management in medicine. However, on the drug scene, it’s abused as a cheaper alternative to heroin.

Unfortunately, this powerful substance has already claimed lives due to overdoses in the Czech Republic. The most recent case was the tragic death of a thirty-four-year-old woman in Bruntál at the end of July.

According to Dr. Petr Popov, the head of addiction medicine at the General University Hospital in Prague, Fentanyl is a highly potent substance. “It’s an effective analgesic for treating the most severe pains accompanying conditions like cancer. Fentanyl is reported to be about a hundred times stronger than morphine,” said Dr. Popov.

The woman in Bruntál lost her life after using Fentanyl. The police are pursuing two suspects in connection to the incident.

The risk of overdose with Fentanyl is very high, as explained by Dr. Popov. “Especially in addiction medicine, we encounter individuals who acquire Fentanyl most commonly from often used patches. People try to extract the residual amount of Fentanyl from these patches in various ways, which is not as dramatic as applying a pure concentrated substance,” Popov noted.

According to Jakub Frydrych, the director of the National Drug Headquarters, the abuse of Fentanyl patches is a significant problem in the Czech Republic.

“These patches come from pharmaceutical distribution, either through resale by authorized patients or leakage from the sales chain,” said Frydrych. “We have seen certain sudden deaths associated with these patches, where Fentanyl was likely one of the significant causes of their demise.”

Investigators have placed two individuals in custody in the case of the woman’s death in Bruntál. “The case is being investigated, charges will be filed, and subsequent prosecution will follow. These are the instances where we manage to document someone’s involvement in Fentanyl abuse,” Frydrych added.

The police have no information suggesting direct production of Fentanyl within the Czech Republic. “The last case closest to our borders was in 2012 in Bratislava, where a group of people was manufacturing Fentanyl from imported precursors from the Baltic region and distributing it to the Czech Republic,” said Frydrych.

One significant concern is the low cost of Fentanyl. According to Viktor Mravčík, advisor to the national drug coordinator, it’s crucial to monitor the availability of Fentanyl or related substances in the Czech Republic’s black market.

“We still have relatively few adulterated substances here, but one should never say never. The offering of new psychoactive substances is diverse,” Mravčík stated, highlighting that the situation is favorable throughout Europe, except for Scotland.

Fentanyl is sought after by individuals looking for opioid-based substances. According to epidemiological data, the highest number of such individuals is found in Prague, the Central Bohemian Region, the Ústí nad Labem Region, the Moravian-Silesian Region, and Brno. Opioids are not as attractive in other regions, Frydrych mentioned.

Apart from its analgesic effects that alleviate pain, Fentanyl also has sedative effects that suppress the central nervous system and calm individuals. However, like other opioids, Fentanyl affects the respiratory center. If used excessively, it can stop natural defense mechanisms like coughing, leading to a phase where autonomous breathing control shuts down, resulting in death, explained Dr. Popov.

Dr. Popov pointed out that Fentanyl isn’t as widespread in the Czech Republic as in the USA, primarily due to stricter conditions for its medical use. Nonetheless, he warned that we could face a similar situation to the USA, not only because Fentanyl is easily transported over longer distances.

“We’re now talking about Chinese laboratories where similar substances are manufactured as concentrated material. The risk also lies in the fact that this substance is inexpensive. If Fentanyl spreads significantly, the consequences could be similar to those in the USA,” Popov cautioned.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, last year, 110,000 people died from drug overdoses. Fentanyl was a contributing factor in up to 70 percent of these deaths. Precise Czech data is not available. The risk is real, and addressing this growing concern swiftly and effectively is crucial.