Bay Area non-profit trying to tackle accidental Fentanyl overdoses with free test kits

With the number of accidental Fentanyl overdoses continuing to surge across the nation, one Bay Area non-profit is hoping to help people, before it’s too late. FentCheck is making free Fentanyl testing kits easily available at dozens of Bay Area bars and stores.

"Fentanyl really broke through my friend circle. I lost a lot," said FentCheck co-founder Alison Heller. "I miss my friends and I wish that they had this."

Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, inexpensive, and often mixed in with other drugs. The test strips detect if a drug has been laced with Fentanyl.

"This costs a dollar, Narcan costs $75, a trip to the ED costs $6,000. I’m in healthcare. Who do you think pays for all of that? The taxpayer. So I looked at this as an engineer and thought we can solve this," said FentCheck co-founder Dean Shold, who also works as the chief technology officer at Alameda Health System.

"She started posting some of these fentanyl test strips literally with painters tape into bars, and onto electrical boxes," said Shold.

Now, FentCheck's co-founders say that bars and stores regularly request the testing strips. The non-profit pays for them with the help of partner businesses and through donations and fundraisers.  

"I like the idea," said Rikki Tran, who works at Tattoo 13 in Oakland, where the testing strips are available in the bathroom. She says many of the people who come in and grab a test are not customers. "They kind of just come in and they make regular stops and it’s just a part of their safety before they go out."

Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for adults between 18 and 45 according to US government data. San Francisco saw nearly 700 overdose deaths a year in 2020 and again 2021. 

"This is all about bringing a tool that might have helped in those situations into everyone’s home, purses, medicine cabinet," said Heller.

FentCheck says they hope to raise more money from donations and grants so they can expand across the Bay Area. 

Zak Sos is a reporter for KTVU. Email Zak at or follow him on Twitter @zaksnews