DEA launches new campaign focused on deadly counterfeit pills

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has launched the ‘One Pill Can Kill’ campaign to warn Americans of the spike in the lethality and availability of fake pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Authorities have seen mass-production of counterfeit pills from criminal drug networks who are falsely marketing them as legitimate prescriptions.

More than 93,000 people died from a drug overdose in the United States in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are a primary reason for the record deaths as it is often found in counterfeit pills.

“Kentucky experienced a nearly 50-percent increase in drug overdose fatalities between 2019 and 2020, driven not only by increased substance use amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but by a major uptick in illicit fentanyl and its analogs within the drug supply,” said Matt Brown, senior vice president of administration for Addiction Recovery Care. “Fentanyl continues to be an urgent, life-threatening problem in communities across the commonwealth, and we encourage all Kentuckians struggling with substance use to seek treatment. Our state has made great strides in recent years to ensure that anyone in need of treatment services can access them without delay. With more than 30 addiction treatment centers across Eastern and Central Kentucky, ARC is here to help the moment an individual decides to pursue recovery.”

Some of the most common counterfeit pills are made to look like prescription opioids such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®).

Drug traffickers use the fake pills to exploit the opioid epidemic and misuse of prescription drugs in America. The pills are widely accessible and typically sold on social media and e-commerce platforms. This means anyone with a smartphone, including minors, can get a hold of them.

Counterfeit pills have been found in every state. DEA laboratory testing identified that two out of every five pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose of at least two milligrams.

The DEA urges the public to only take medications prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.

For more information, visit the DEA’s website.

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