What is fentanyl? KSAT Explains

More than 100,000 people in the U.S. died of drug overdoses in 2021

SAN ANTONIO – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain.

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and is prescribed as transdermal patches or lozenges.

The CDC says the most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl.

Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, increased by over 56% from 2019 to 2020, according to the CDC.

Narcan is a life-saving antidote to fentanyl and can be acquired for free.

The antidote is recommended to have on hand for anyone who comes in contact with fentanyl, whether prescribed or not.

Click here for more details on how to get and use Narcan.

Watch the latest KSAT Explains episode in the player above to learn more about fentanyl.

Find more KSAT Explains episodes here


About the Authors:

Myra Arthur is passionate about San Antonio and sharing its stories. She graduated high school in the Alamo City and always wanted to anchor and report in her hometown. Myra anchors KSAT News at 6:00 p.m. and hosts and reports for the streaming show, KSAT Explains. She joined KSAT in 2012 after anchoring and reporting in Waco and Corpus Christi.

Valerie Gomez is lead video editor and graphic artist for KSAT Explains. She began her career in 2014 and has been with KSAT since 2017. She helped create KSAT’s first digital-only newscast in 2018, and her work on KSAT Explains and various specials have earned her a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media and multiple Emmy nominations.