DEA issues Public Safety Alert about increase in fake prescription pills


WASHINGTON (WJTV) – On Monday, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a Public Safety Alert about an increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills that contain fentanyl and methamphetamine.

According to the DEA, the counterfeit pills have been seized by agents in every U.S. state. More than 9.5 million pills have been seized this year, which is more than the last two years combined.

Testing showed the pills contained at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose.

Agents said the fake pills are illegally manufactured by criminal drug networks and are made to look like real prescription opioid medications, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and alprazolam. They said the pills are often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms.

“The United States is facing an unprecedented crisis of overdose deaths fueled by illegally manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Anne Milgram, Administrator of the DEA. “Counterfeit pills that contain these dangerous and extremely addictive drugs are more lethal and more accessible than ever before. In fact, DEA lab analyses reveal that two out of every five fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose. DEA is focusing resources on taking down the violent drug traffickers causing the greatest harm and posing the greatest threat to the safety and health of Americans. Today, we are alerting the public to this danger so that people have the information they need to protect themselves and their children.”

“Counterfeit pills often contain fentanyl and even a small amount of fentanyl can be lethal,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley. “There is a disturbing trend across the nation, including two here in our region, of drug traffickers using fake pills to exploit the opioid crisis. Fentanyl, most commonly found in these counterfeit pills, is the primary driver in this shocking increase in overdose deaths. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who ruthlessly traffic these and other dangerous drugs.”

According to the DEA, a majority of the counterfeit pills are produced in Mexico, and China supplies the chemicals for the manufacturing of fentanyl in Mexico.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States last year.

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