Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Department of Health
131. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the crisis level of opioid addiction and death by overdose in the United States of America according to data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (details supplied); if his attention has been further drawn to its increasing misuse here; if a specific public health campaign on management of the use and misuse of fentanyl has been put in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50599/18]
The OECD Health Committee has been developing a comparative analysis of international strategies to address and prevent problematic opioid use, and their effectiveness in reducing or preventing opioid-related harm. Officials from the Department of Health have been engaging with international agencies in order to improve responses to this worrying trend that has resulted in the loss of many lives.
Since 2012, the EU Early Warning System, which includes Ireland, has received an increasing number of reports in relation to fentanyl analogues and the harms caused by them. However, I am pleased to inform the deputy that the situation here in Ireland is very different from what is being experienced in the United States of America and other parts of the world.
Drug trends in Ireland are monitored by the HSE, the HRB and An Garda Síochána . Fentanyl has not been documented as an issue since 2015/16. In 2016 the HSE issued an alert in relation to 5 fentanyl-related deaths and a small number of hospitalisations. The latest drug-related deaths data from the HRB reports that fentanyls were implicated in 7 deaths in 2015. Forensic Science Ireland toxicology service identified 3 fentanyls and analogues in 2016.
I have been informed that neither the HSE nor An Garda Síochána are aware of an increase in the misuse of fentanyls here and the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau have not recorded any seizures of fentanyls recently. For these reasons, and in the absence of clear evidence of an increase in fentanyl use, it is not proposed to undertake a public health campaign that focuses on fentanyls specifically.