STATE HOUSE – Advocates gathered today to discuss a bill
introduced by Rep. Aaron Regunberg to solidify the legality of fentanyl test
strips. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is the leading driver of overdose
deaths in the state.
“Preventable overdose deaths have taken too many of our
neighbors and our young people. Nearly every family in our state has been
touched in some way, and we need to take action. Fentanyl is a primary factory
in the spike in overdose deaths in recent years, and fentanyl test strips are
an effective tool to protect against this dangerous substance. By increasing
access to test strips, this legislation will save lives and make our
communities safer,” said Representative Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence).
Michael Galipeau of Rhode Island Communities for Addiction
Recovery Efforts, Inc. (RICARES) noted, “While we still have a long way to go
to make death from overdose truly a thing of our past, this is a very large
step in the right direction. Let us work together to create a culture
where we embrace our differences and seek sensible ways to address public
safety - using methods and tools that we already have in similar arenas to
address the challenges we have experienced with overdose. For the price
of just $1, a life can be spared. We are tired of dying out here, and for just
a dollar, that is one powerful price tag.”
Representative Regunberg and advocates held an event at the
Providence Public Safety Complex this morning in support of the legislation (2018-H 8132).
The foundation of the proposed legislation is drawn from two
recent Rhode Island-based research studies led by a team of professionals,
including by Dr. Traci Green and Dr. Brandon Marshall of the Brown University
School of Public Health, which highlighted the benefits of this type of public
The studies found that fentanyl test strips:
let people know what is in their substances. Research by
Green et. al. shows that “of all respondents, 85 percent desired to know about
the presence of fentanyl before using drugs. Drug checking was viewed as an
important means of overdose prevention, with 89 percent agreeing that it would
make them feel better about protecting themselves from overdose.”
In a second study led by Professor Marshall and published
recently in Harm
Reduction Journal, the majority of young adults interviewed reported
being concerned about fentanyl overdose, and 95 percent wanted to use the rapid
testing strips. “This study provides compelling evidence that young people at
risk of overdose will be highly willing to use fentanyl testing strips if they
are made available,” noted Dr. Marshall.
are a cost-effective way to prevent an overdose. The test
strips cost about $1 per strip and are sensitive to detect fentanyl in very
allow for people who use substances to know if they are
about to consume fentanyl. This is especially important in Rhode Island, as
drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine have been found to contain fentanyl,
and those consuming those drugs may not have a tolerance to opioids.
have a range of support from primary care doctors, school
nurses, mental health and substance use professionals, hospital emergency
departments, law enforcement professionals, first responders, student
organizations, legislatures, attorneys, and drug users.
promote a public health and information-based approach to
the overdose epidemic, rather than ineffective, punitive measures that
perpetuate the failed war on drugs.