DEA releases public safety alert regarding fake prescription pills

State News

BISMARCK, N.D. – The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has released a public safety alert regarding an increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.

According to the alert, deadly, counterfeit pills, that are being mass-produced by criminal drug networks, are being seized by the DEA and its law enforcement partners at record rates.

The number of DEA-seized counterfeit pills with fentanyl has jumped nearly 430 percent since 2019. DEA lab testing reveals that 2 out of every 5 pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose.

Data collected through the North Dakota Violent Death Reporting System (NDVDRS), indicates the state has recorded more than 250 drug overdose deaths since January 2019, of which a majority were opioid-related, many involving fentanyl.   

According to the DEA alert, 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®).

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 teens and young adults.

The North Dakota Department of Health reminds North Dakotans that the only safe medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal and can be dangerous or lethal.

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