A small study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that, while some herbal medicines are potentially beneficial, they may pose risks.
A team of researchers led by Elizabeth H. Pyle, PhD, professor of pharmacology at the University of Arizona, looked at the potential for synthetic opioids, including those made from fentanyl, to cause severe and even fatal opioid-related complications.
In this case, the researchers found that a small amount of synthetic fentanyl could be toxic to the liver and brain, and that it could lead to coma, liver failure and death.
“These drugs may be associated with serious adverse reactions,” the researchers wrote.
“The potential for these drugs to cause serious side effects and death is of significant concern.”
In their study, the authors analyzed the data from the FDA’s opioid prescription data database and found that opioids were the most commonly prescribed opioid in 2015, with 6,638,922 prescriptions for the opioid painkiller.
They also found that opioid painkillers were the fourth most common prescription opioid, after painkillers such as OxyContin and morphine.
For example, about half of all opioids prescribed for opioid pain management were opioids made from a synthetic fentanyl, the investigators found.
Of the synthetic fentanyl used in 2015 to treat opioid pain, about 17% was made from the chemical, which is roughly the same concentration as morphine and about 10 times the concentration of fentanyl that is used to make fentanyl.
The authors write that “these results suggest that opioid analgesics, even if they are less potent, may still be potentially toxic.”
They also noted that synthetic opioids are sometimes sold as cough suppressants, which could also be dangerous.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were responsible for a whopping 27,000 overdose deaths in 2016.
The FDA said fentanyl is the most deadly synthetic opioid in the world.
Pyle, who is the lead author on the study, is currently studying the opioid use of Native American tribes in Alaska, as well as Native Americans in the United States, Canada and Australia.
The researchers are continuing to look into whether the drugs were linked to overdose deaths or if they were being used as a form of pain medication, the report said.
The researchers said the study has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, and the National Science Foundation.
They also noted they were able to obtain unpublished data from other countries that did not require approval.