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Special to the News
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has warned the American public about the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is seriously concerned that these pills are falsely marketed in Alabama as prescription drugs sold online or through social media and are intentionally made to look like legitimate drugs in size and color.
In a public safety alert, the DEA issued a new warning that international and domestic criminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills which are killing unsuspecting Americans. These counterfeit pills are easy to purchase, widely available and often contain deadly doses of fentanyl.
Pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous and potentially lethal. The only safe medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Any pills that do not meet this standard are unsafe and potentially deadly, the DEA and ADPH caution.
More than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized so far this year, which is more than in the last two years combined. Officials report a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a deadly dose.
The number of DEA-seized counterfeit pills with fentanyl has jumped nearly 430% since 2019, a staggering increase.
DEA laboratory testing further reveals that today, two out of every five pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose. Additionally, methamphetamine is increasingly being pressed into counterfeit pills.
Some of the most common counterfeit pills made to look like prescription opioids include:
· Oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®)
· Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
· Alprazolam (Xanax®)
· Stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®)
Fake prescription pills are widely accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms – making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including teens and young adults.
DEA reports that these counterfeit pills have been seized in every U.S. state and in unprecedented quantities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last year more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States, marking the largest number of drug-related deaths ever recorded in a year.
In 2020, 1,027 Alabama residents died from drug overdoses. Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid most commonly found in counterfeit pills, and its analogs are the primary drivers of this alarming increase in overdose deaths.
ADPH supports DEA’s public awareness campaign, “One Pill can Kill,” to educate the public on dangers of counterfeit pills and how to keep Americans safe. For more information, visit www.dea.gov/onepill.