... a history lesson on American drug use and drug laws, a crash course in chemistry and neuroscience, a multifaceted portrait of addiction and a look at how harm reduction programs can atone for the failures of the War on Drugs ... a finely woven and accessible analysis of the connection between university chemistry professors, dark web sales, drug cartels, law enforcement, and the dealers and addicts dependent on it ... Westhoff is a skilled and empathetic biographer, and this gift serves the composite of the dealers, users and bereaved of Fentanyl, Inc. Throughout the book are the human faces and voices of the crisis: their insights, their histories ... It’s in this focus on the human cost of the crisis, of empathy over criminalization, that this accomplished book feels most urgently important.
Critiquing prohibition-oriented drug policy, Westhoff explores more pragmatic responses including grassroots harm-reduction activism and supervised injection facilities, needle exchanges, and treatment programs that could lower public-health costs and reduce fatalities. ... this book will assist policymakers, activists, and general readers in understanding better how to respond to the drug crisis that is only more intractable now.
The information uncovered by Westhoff, an investigative reporter, will no doubt prove useful to lawmakers, addiction counselors, and anyone else who is dealing with opioid addiction ... But where the book really shines is in Westhoff’s ability to get inside the lives of his characters, from addicts like Henke and Schwandt, to the scientists who initially developed opioids, to the Chinese chemists who are manufacturing fentanyl knockoffs—and profiting hugely off the global rise of opioid addiction ... a feat of reporting, to be sure. And while the many details Westhoff uncovered are likely to leave some readers enraged, Fentanyl, Inc. is an important book that arrives at a key juncture in the opioid crisis.
... timely and agonizing ... an impressive work of investigative journalism ... By focusing on the manufacturers, Westhoff comes to an uncomfortable conclusion: Once fentanyl is eventually contained, another dangerous drug will simply pop up in its place. Rogue chemists are already working on the next deadly detour.
... epic ... like Breaking Bad, sure — meets Night of the Living Dead meets New Jack City, Gummo, Kids and Gremlins, with a cast from a lot of the places on President Donald Trump’s 'shithole' list ... Westhoff includes ample relevant history.
...in this frank, insightful, and occasionally searing exposé. Westhoff narrates the dangerous rise of fentanyl alongside the emergence of a wide variety of other synthetic drugs ... Westhoff offers a truly multifaceted view of the landscape of fentanyl use and abuse. The disparate narrative strands he weaves together...all come together to provide a more complex understanding of the rise of, and response to, the opioid epidemic. Westhoff’s well-reported and researched work will likely open eyes, slow knee-jerk responses, and start much needed conversations.
...the author seamlessly blends past and present in his profiles of Belgian chemist Paul Janssen, who was responsible for Fentanyl’s initial development in 1959 ... Perhaps most compelling is Westhoff’s undercover infiltration of several rogue Chinese drug operations ... Also fascinating is the author’s charting of Fentanyl’s circulation from darknet marketplaces to overseas postal stops to regional distribution ... Drawing material from official reports, drug databases, scores of interviews, and years of personal research, Westhoff presents an unflinching, illuminating portrait of a festering crisis involving a drug industry that thrives as effectively as it kills. Highly sobering, exemplary reportage delivered through richly detailed scenarios and diversified perspectives.