WASHINGTON – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warned Monday that the United States was inundated with counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine, which are killing Americans at “unprecedented rates.”
In its first public safety alert in six years, the agency said there was a “nationwide significant increase in counterfeit pills being mass produced by criminal drug rings in laboratories.” They’re designed to look like prescription opioid drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax, and even amphetamines like Adderall, according to the DEA.
The pills are then “deceptively marketed as legitimate prescription pills” online and on social media platforms, making them “available to anyone with a smartphone, including minors,” the DEA continued. .
There have been “unprecedented amounts” of these counterfeit pills in every state, according to the DEA.
More than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have already been seized by the agency this year, “which is more than the last two years combined,” the federal agency said.
Drug Enforcement Administration administrator Anne Milgram said these dangerous pills are “more accessible than ever” and are fueling the drug overdose crisis in the United States.
“DEA lab tests show that two out of five fake pills containing fentanyl contain a potentially fatal dose,” Milgram said.
As a result, the DEA is focused on “eliminating the violent drug traffickers causing the most harm and posing the greatest threat to the safety and health of Americans.”
To do this, the agency launched a public awareness campaign called “One pill can kill.”
The purpose of the campaign is to educate Americans about the dangers of these counterfeit pills and to remind them to be vigilant when purchasing drugs.
“Only take drugs prescribed by a healthcare professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist,” the agency said, adding that “pills purchased outside a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous and potentially fatal.”
Last year, more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States, the DEA said, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overall, fentanyl, most commonly found in counterfeit pills, is the “primary driver of this alarming increase in overdose deaths.”
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