Rutherford Announces Pilot to Combat Increasing Overdose Deaths

Today, Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford announced the Rapid Analysis of Drugs pilot initiative involving the Maryland State Police (MSP), Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

pills tumble from a prescription bottle

The initiative will “test drugs and paraphernalia using a Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) Mass Spectrometer, which details the contents of drugs within minutes.”

“The Rapid Analysis of Drugs program provides Maryland with an opportunity to substantially increase its ability to monitor the drug supply in the state,” said Secretary Dennis Schrader of MDH. “The information provided by the program will help us to communicate the dangers of these drugs even more effectively and ultimately save more lives.”

The Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) and MDH also released data revealing a slight increase in opioid-related overdose deaths as compared to last year. 1,358 such deaths occurred over the first six months of this year as compared to 1,352 through a similar period in 2020. According to the OOCC report, “Baltimore City (485 deaths), Baltimore County (184 deaths), and Anne Arundel County (115 deaths) experienced the highest number of fatalities.”

Western Maryland saw the greatest decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths, whereas Central Maryland saw the greatest increase. Both unintentional intoxication fatalities, which includes the use of all substances, and opioid-related overdose fatalities reached 10-year highs in 2020.

Read the full press release and report.