PHMDC: Fentanyl test strips’ availability limited

A certain type of test is now saving lives in Wisconsin.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 9:40 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A certain type of test is now saving lives in Wisconsin.

Back in March, Governor Tony Evers signed a bill decriminalizing the use of fentanyl test strips. The intent of these tests is to combat drug overdoses.

While availability is limited, Public Health Madison & Dane County public health supervisor Julia Olsen said a plan to change this is in the works.

“There’s a program coming soon,” Olsen said. “Health departments will be able to get (tests) at low or no cost and then be able to distribute them to community partners and other agencies in a larger quantity who may use them or need them for their clients or the public.”

The test strips are 96% effective according to the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association. Olsen said the test strips work similarly to pregnancy tests.

“You dip it in the residue and the water and you wait to see if it’s positive or not,” Olsen said.

Drug overdose continues to be an issue in Madison and statewide.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health, in 2020, 86% of opioid deaths in the state were connected to a synthetic or manufactured opioid like fentanyl.

“When we have clients and people who are using drugs who do test them for fentanyl, usually it may lead that person to make a safety plan to decide ‘do I want to use this or not,’ to use less, to go slow,” Olsen said. “So they’re able to make some better decisions.”

PHMDC is offering fentanyl test strips for free.

People who use drugs can contact the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery helpline to learn about agencies and organizations offering free fentanyl test strips by calling 211 or 833-944-4673.