The amount of deadly counterfeit pills on the streets has skyrocketed.
Fake prescription pills containing fentanyl have been on the rise in the United States, and in 2022, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reported seizing more than 50 million fake fentanyl-laced pills, a 150% increase from the previous year. In Ohio, Michigan, and Northern Kentucky alone, agents seized over 280,000 counterfeit pills. These fake pills, manufactured largely in Mexico, are extremely dangerous because they appear to be regular prescription pills such as oxycodone or Xanax. Even one pill can be fatal.
According to Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan, the increased supply of fentanyl-laced pills has the potential to touch a market that was previously unexposed to opioids. Synan is a nationally recognized expert in the opioid epidemic and an advocate for addiction response. This means that previously unassuming communities are continuing to face new challenges when it comes to the addiction crisis.
In recent years, the growing threat of fentanyl in prescription pills has become an increasingly alarming issue. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is often mixed with other prescription medications to create a powerful and dangerous concoction. This mixture is highly addictive and can a fatal overdose. The potency of fentanyl has led to numerous overdoses and fatalities as a result of individuals not realizing the strength of the drug they are taking.
Fentanyl’s potential danger has only been increased by the easy availability of prescription pills containing it. It is estimated that over 10,000 deaths in the United States alone have been attributed to fentanyl overdoses in the past decade. It is imperative that individuals recognize the danger of this substance and take proactive steps to avoid it. It is also essential that the government and medical professionals work together to reduce the amount of fentanyl in prescriptions in the market, limiting its use to patients in severe pain.
The market for counterfeit drugs is a shadowy one, operating primarily online and through underground networks. These pills are often manufactured in clandestine labs and then sold to dealers who distribute them throughout the country. The DEA notes that this market is not easy to unearth, making it difficult for law enforcement to track and disrupt. Seizing pills from underground dealers isn’t an easy task.
Counterfeit drugs are not only illegal but also pose significant health risks to those who take them. Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin. When mixed with other drugs, such as fake prescriptions, even those who are attempting to use it legitimately are at risk. According to the DEA, these pills are often disguised, making it difficult for consumers to know they are taking a dangerous drug.
The DEA is taking a multi-pronged approach to seizing counterfeits and combating the 150% increase in pills containing fentanyl. This includes increasing the number of investigations, expanding public and private sector partnerships, increasing intelligence sharing, and increasing the availability of funding for law enforcement and public health initiatives.
A major goal of the agency is also to disrupt the supply chains that bring illegal opioids into the country. As a final step, the DEA is working with other federal agencies on strategies to reduce the demand for illegal opioids. These include providing resources to communities, expanding access to treatment and recovery services, and ensuring quality care is available to those with substance use disorders.
The recent spike in seizing of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl is a reminder of the ongoing threat of counterfeit drugs. This growing problem highlights the need for continued research and efforts to combat the issue. Consumers should be aware of the dangers of these pills and should only purchase medications from reputable sources.