ATLANTA (CBS46) — The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a Public Safety Alert on Monday about the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.
The alert, which is the first in 6 years, seeks to raise public awareness of a significant t nationwide surge in counterfeit pills that are mass-produced by criminal drug networks in labs, deceptively marketed as legitimate prescription pills, and are killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate.
The counterfeit pills have been seized in almost every U.S. state. More
than 9.5 million counterfeit pills were seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined. DEA laboratory testing reveals a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing
at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose. A deadly dose of fentanyl is small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.
Counterfeit pills are make to look like real prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone
(Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or 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 minors.
The vast majority of counterfeit pills brought into the United States are produced in Mexico, and China is supplying chemicals for the manufacturing of fentanyl in Mexico.
According to the CDC, more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States last year. Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid most commonly found in counterfeit pills, is the primary driver of this alarming increase in overdose deaths.