This article was first published on August 28, 2022. It was last edited or updated on August 31, 2022.
Given the seriousness of the fentanyl epidemic and the huge number of people who are dying each year due to it, all articles on this website about fentanyl and fentanyl analogs are being made available to everyone and not only to our Members (subscribers). Please share these articles widely by email, social media, and other means.
Here are the links to the articles about fentanyl and fentanyl analogs:
Why fentanyl test strips are extremely important
One problem with fentanyl analogs is that they may not be detected by urine drug screens for fentanyl/ norfentanyl that are discussed in the following article on our website: Special tests are needed to identify fentanyl in the urine
Secondly, users of illicit substances need to be able to test whatever they purchase for possible adulteration with fentanyl or fentanyl analogs.
The majority of overdose deaths involving fentanyl/ fentanyl analogs occur because these persons did not know what they bought illicitly contained fentanyl or a fentanyl analog. So, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other organizations have been urging persons who use illicit substances to test what they buy with fentanyl test strips before using it (source).
The use of fentanyl test strips is an example of a “harm reduction” approach, which we will discuss in another article on this website.
This approach may make some people uncomfortable. But we should realize that though we may be trying to get these persons to stop using illicit substances, if they are not ready to stop, they are likely to use these substances anyway. Learning safer practices does not encourage the use of illicit substances. Rather, it reduces complications like overdose deaths (which are occurring in staggering numbers), infections, and disease transmission.
Important things for users of illicit substances to know
Users of illicit substances should be clearly told that:
– Fentanyl test strips can identify the presence of fentanyl or fentanyl-like substances but not how much of it is present. Some sources suggest various precautions that the person may take if they feel compelled to use a small amount of that substance even though fentanyl is present. But, if fentanyl is present, the safest option is for the person to assume that the product is extremely dangerous and NOT use that product at all.
– Fentanyl test strips do NOT test for all possible fentanyl analogs. So, even if the product they intend to use tests negative with a fentanyl test strip, they need to still be cautious.
– Fentanyl test strips are considered to be illegal drug paraphernalia in most states in the USA (source).
Which fentanyl test strips?
Commercially available fentanyl test strips can detect not only fentanyl but many (though not all) fentanyl analogs (Bergh et al., 2021).
What if the person asks us which brand of fentanyl test strips should they get? Here’s one that is very well-known:
Rapid Response Fentanyl (FYL) Test Strips (BTNX, Inc).
This product, made by a Canadian company, is available on Amazon.com (as of August 2022). This brand of fentanyl has been used in research studies (Bergh et al., 2021). Also, BTNX was the company that first introduced fentanyl test strips (in 2011).
Other commercial fentanyl test strips used in research studies have included (Bergh et al., 2021):
– Drug-Screen FYL (Nal van Minden, Moers, Germany)
– Rapid Self Test Fentanyl (Rapid Self Test Inc., Mississauga, ON, Canada)
– One Step FYL20, Rapid Test Dipstick (Hangzhou Alltest Biotech Co., Ltd, (Hangzhou, China).
Note: These products are mentioned because they were used in research studies. We are NOT endorsing any particular brand of fentanyl test strips.
Guides for users of fentanyl test strips
There is a method to be followed when using the fentanyl test strips, including dissolving a very small amount of the product in some water before testing it. Rather than going into those details, let me provide links to some guides for users of fentanyl test strips:
Simple and Practical Medical Education thanks (alphabetically) Jonathan Beatty MD, and Marina Goldman, MD, for peer-reviewing and approving this article (in July and August 2022).
Dr. Beatty is a board-certified addiction psychiatrist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who has extensive clinical experience in treating patients with substance use disorders. His clinical practice website is https://wavetreatmentcenters.com.
Dr. Goldman is a board-certified addiction psychiatrist. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Core Faculty in the Addiction Medicine & Addiction Psychiatry Fellowships at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She also has a busy private practice in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.
Opioid use disorder
Opioid use disorder—Management
Substance use disorders
Bergh MS, Øiestad ÅML, Baumann MH, Bogen IL. Selectivity and sensitivity of urine fentanyl test strips to detect fentanyl analogues in illicit drugs. Int J Drug Policy. 2021 Apr;90:103065. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.103065. Epub 2020 Dec 14. PMID: 33333419.
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