The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a patient safety alert over concerns around drug overdoses possibly linked to potent synthetic opioids.

The national safety alert contains urgent actions for all organisations where staff may encounter people who use drugs, such as providers of drug treatment and prevention services, and those who provide emergency care for opioid overdose.

According to MHRA, there have been an unprecedented number of overdoses (with some deaths) in people who use drugs, primarily heroin, in some parts of the country over the past fortnight. The affected areas include five London boroughs, Hampshire, Essex, West Sussex, Dorset and Thames Valley.

It has advised directors of public health to cascade the information “to commissioners and providers of drug treatment and prevention services and other relevant services that have, or may have, contact with drug users including: sexual health services; youth services; hostels; relevant information networks; and service users groups.”

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