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Prevalence of Fentanyl and Its Analogues in a Court-Ordered Mandatory Drug Testing Population

NCJ Number
Megan Grabenauer; Nichole Bynum
Date Published
24 pages

This report describes a project seeking to provide timely, evidence-based intelligence on criminal justice populations regarding growing rates of drug use and patterns of fentanyl and fentanyl-related compounds use; it presents a summary of goals and objectives, research questions, project design and methods, results, and applicability to criminal justice; and appendices include Hair Classification Descriptions, LC-MS/MS Method, Results of Fentanyl-Related Compounds and Other Compounds, and Most Common Drugs Detected in Oral Fluid Confirmation Testing and in Hair Confirmation Testing.


This summary report discusses the research methods and results of a project that aimed to provide timely, evidence-based intelligence on growing rates of drug use and patterns of use of fentanyl and fentanyl-related compounds among incarcerated populations. The project is a response to the US opioid epidemic that has resulted in an increase in law enforcement drug seizures and opioid overdose deaths, which has led to court-ordered mandatory drug testing (COMDT) of hair samples. The testing is routinely done at large commercial laboratories but does not typically include testing for fentanyl or fentanyl-related compounds. The report describes the two project phases, which focus on determining the prevalence of fentanyl and a selection of fentanyl-related compounds in hair specimens submitted for COMDT over six months, and Phase II, which involved a retrospective analysis of COMDT data from a five-year period. The report presents actionable information from several, geographically diverse US jurisdictions, and represents the first large-scale drug prevalence study in a COMDT population.