The drug is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times stronger than fentanyl, according to the DEA.
People largely do not become addicted to opioids after visits to the emergency room for car crashes, falls and other types of acute injuries that might warrant prescription painkillers, a new study shows.
But federal policies to slow the opioid crisis could be supporting the market demand for fentanyl in the first place, according to public health experts.
Figuring out the best response has been a challenge for authorities, amid a resurgence in meth throughout the nation.
Earlier this week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made quick work of destroying more than 16,000 pounds of drugs collected on its National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, according to reporting by NJTV News.
"The pharmaceutical industry is being scapegoated for something where there's plenty of blame to go around," says Northeastern University's Leo Beletsky.
"We know that many individuals are going to be detoxing while they're in our custody, and we know that people are highly susceptible to overdose upon release," Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told the Houston Chronicle.
"We're focusing really heavily on restricting access to prescription opioids, but that's because it's what we're comfortable doing," Travis Rieder said. "There's not actually any evidence that these cuts save lives."
After hundreds of chronic pain patients begged the Drug Enforcement Administration to reconsider its proposed cuts to opioid production, the agency told Newsweek it's not responsible for their inability to get prescriptions.
Officials believe at least 18 people have possibly overdosed on the synthetic drug known as K2.
"This fast-moving epidemic does not stay within state and county lines."
"Fentanyl is not a choice. It's a contamination crisis."
Among white users, prescription opioids seem to be a gateway drug to heroin.
West Virginia has the nation's highest rate of opioid overdoses, according to the CDC.