In September 2017 CGL and Volteface convened a ‘round table’ to discuss responses to the growing threat posed by fentanyl and its analogues (often referred to as ‘fentalogues’ or ‘fentanyls’). Fentanyl and its analogues range from highly valued medicines to highly dangerous synthetic opioid drugs with little or no legitimate use in humans. The round table followed reports of at least 60 deaths linked to fentanyls in England and Wales in the previous eight months and CGL’s direct experience of managing outbreaks of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in two areas in England.
The round table had support from a wide range of stakeholders: commissioners, police; academics; drug service managers; toxicologists; doctors; nurses; public health specialists; drug policy experts; ‘experts by experience’; and other stakeholders from the NHS and Voluntary Sector.
The aims and objectives of the round table were to:
- Explore the causes and consequences related to the rise in fentanyl-related deaths.
- Inform discussion on existing and new service provision models.
- Help shape CGL’s internal response to fentanyls.
- Inform the development of a multi-agency approach to help prevent future deaths where fentanyls were suspected to be implicated. While the round table focussed on the fentanyls, it was acknowledged at the outset that any subsequent recommendations would likely build on existing guidance on the wider goal of reducing all drug-related deaths as detailed in the following documents:
- Understanding and preventing drug-related deaths: The report of a national expert working group to investigate drug-related deaths in England (Public Health England, September 2016).
- Reducing opioid-related deaths (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, December 2016).