Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Tentatively, it's been reported the substance in the gas used to kill the hostage takers and so many hostages in Moscow was something called Fentanyl. And when I saw that, my thought was, "no wonder so many are dead."

A bit about Fentanyl: it's an opiate similar to heroin. In fact, lately it's often mixed in with heroin. Only it's 100 times more powerful. And Fentanyl being part of the heroin trade, the Russian mob has to have their hands on a good-sized stash of it.

Now think about that for a second. Think about how much smack it takes to produce a fatal overdose. Divide that by 100. That's how much fentanyl will kill you. Thinking about it alternatively, one single dose of Fentanyl has a mass of 0.05 mg. (The lab back home has a balance that is only precise to 0.1 mg.) So it takes very few milligrams of the stuff to kill a human.

(In fairness, it also gets prescribed as pain medication. But doctors have to know what they're doing to deliver a controlled dose.)

Back to the Russian military. It is possible to control the dose of Fentanyl. Turning it into an aerosol and spraying it into a crowded room is not one of them. So to the chickenbloggers falling all over themselves to be the next to rub one out for Vlad the Inhaler (thanks, Hesiod), there really was a better way to go about freeing the hostages. And it involves something other than Russian-mob-provided Fentanyl. If Glenn Reynolds really thought this was the only way, he's even dumber than I thought.

UPDATE: A New York Times editorial about the Russians' use of Fentanyl and the narrow line between incapacitating and lethal doses is not much different from my point. Which means that the Mickster and Power Glutes will see me as part of the Howell Raines conspiracy (snicker).

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