Many news articles on fentanyl contain misinformation on “rumored risks” of indirect exposure to the drug, the Miami Herald reports.
Scientists have debunked the myth that fentanyl overdoses can occur when a person touches or is near the drug, the article notes.
An analysis of 551 news articles on fentanyl risks and policy responses between 2015 and 2019 found 92% contained misinformation on rumored risks of indirect exposure to the drug via touch or inhalation. Of these inaccurate articles, 37 were published by national outlets; the rest were covered by state and local media sources.
The articles eventually reached almost 70 million people after being shared 450,000 times on Facebook, the researchers report in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
Of the articles analyzed, 45 (8%) of them were “correct” or “partially correct,” but these stories only received one-tenth of the Facebook exposure (about 48,000 shares) that the incorrect articles received. The researchers found only 18 “truly corrective” articles that explained how indirect exposure to fentanyl cannot lead to an overdose.