Chris Schulz Published

Morgantown Symposium Takes Aim At Fentanyl

These pills were made to look like Oxycodone, but they're actually an illicit form of the potent painkiller fentanyl. A surge in police seizures of illicit fentanyl parallels a rise in overdose deaths.

Federal and state stakeholders met in Morgantown Thursday to identify solutions to the state’s substance abuse crisis.

The West Virginia Fentanyl Symposium brought together experts in drug enforcement, prevention and treatment from across the country to present to the state’s prosecutors, sheriffs and police chiefs.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were over 100,000 drug overdoses in the United States. Of those, 64 percent involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is the most concerning drug that we’ve seen in decades, if not ever,” said Vic Brown, the director of the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The organization sponsored Thursday’s event in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern and Southern Districts of West Virginia.

“It takes every aspect of the community to address this problem. It’s not just a law enforcement problem,” he said.

Presenters included the Drug Enforcement Administration and the CDC, as well as treatment specialists and researchers with firsthand experience in the substance abuse crisis.