By John Showalter
They sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and the general public
If there is one public health crisis that has been discussed more and more as time passes, it is the ongoing opioid epidemic. Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death in Americans ages 18 to 45, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), surpassing deaths caused by suicide, COVID-19, and automobile accidents.
Many readers may have friends or family who have been directly or indirectly affected by this issue. August Koster and Ryan Razzaghi had a heartbreaking experience of their own with this epidemic and decided to act. Recently, I had the opportunity to reach out to them and discuss their efforts.
Koster and Razzaghi both live in Los Angeles and own an SFX movie makeup business and recruiting business, respectively. The two are lifelong friends who lost a close friend and recreational substance user to the ongoing rash of fentanyl-related deaths. Since that tragic event, more of their friends and acquaintances spoke to them about losing friends and loved ones of their own to overdose.
“We founded https://signifyanalytics.com/ after losing a close friend to a drug overdose---one death in an estimated 108,000 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2021 (a 15% increase from 2020), with 71,000 of these deaths involving fentanyl,” Koster and Razzaghi told me. “Our primary focus is to reduce overdose deaths, not to promote the drug use that is causing these deaths. We are strictly a harm reduction and safety company offering the most realistic and immediate solution to ending this epidemic. While we are not a nonprofit organization, we provide our fentanyl testing solutions to nonprofits like Fargo Cass Public Health, to extend our reach and accessibility to the public who need our services.”
Among the services that they have offered since Signify Analytics’ beginnings in 2021 is distributing tens of thousands of fentanyl test strips throughout the United States and Canada, via partnerships with harm reduction organizations. “We sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm reduction organizations and the general public. Our primary goal is to make these strips more accessible to everyone to slow down the destruction caused by the fentanyl epidemic,” they said. “Fentanyl is the leading cause of death in people 18-25. We’re acknowledging the reality that we’re facing and offering a harm reduction service. As the opioid epidemic continues, we believe we should invest in preventative safety measures that will save lives in our communities, rather than postpone our ability to reduce these tragic outcomes until after an OD occurs.”
Signify Analytics has made test strips available to partners throughout the United States and Canada, including North Dakota. “We reached out to Fargo Cass Public Health and asked if they would be interested in distributing fentanyl test strips to the Fargo community, and they were very receptive. They have been a valued partner and have played an instrumental role in making fentanyl test strips more accessible to their community.”
Further ways that the opioid crisis can be addressed? Koster and Razzaghi had this to say: “We are currently working on a big project that has really promising potential to significantly curb the number of opioid overdoses through anonymous data collection. Our test strips have a scannable QR code that enables users to anonymously provide us with positive fentanyl test results, where they can indicate the sample tested, zip code, and date of the test.
“Using this data, we are building a real-time map that will inform harm reduction organizations and government officials of fentanyl spike alerts in a certain city or zip code. These real-time spike alerts will notify users in a particular city/zip code to test their substances for fentanyl and to exercise caution. This data collection aspect allows everyone to get ahead of the issue, rather than dealing with the aftermath of a fentanyl outbreak racing through a community.”
Readers who are interested in reaching out to Signify Analytics can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signify Analytics’ social media channels.
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