DEA Issues Public Safety Alert for increase in fake prescription pills

(Undated) -- The Drug Enforcement Administration issues a Public Safety Alert warning Americans of the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.

The DEA says their Public Safety Alert, the first of which in six years, seeks to raise public awareness of a significant nationwide surge in counterfeit pills that are mass-produced by criminal drug networks in labs, marketed as legitimate prescription pills, and are killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate. The DEA says the counterfeit pills have been seized by DEA in every U.S. state. They say more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills were seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined.

In Nebraska, the DEA says investigators have seized approximately 32,000 pills in 2021. That total is nearly three times more than what the DEA seized in Nebraska in 2020, and a nearly 800 percent increase from seizures reported in 2017. “Across our five state Division, we’ve seen a staggering influx in counterfeit pills,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said. “This is not an East Coast or West Coast problem, but one that the entire nation is facing. We’re seeing these pills in our own Midwestern communities. By raising awareness to this alarming trend, we’re hopeful that we can save families the heartache of losing a loved one. Every life is precious and we want to prevent as many people as possible from making a choice that has permanent repercussions.”

Counterfeit pills are made to look like real prescription opioid medications 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. The DEA says the vast majority of counterfeit pills brought into the United States are produced in Mexico, and China is supplying chemicals for the manufacturing of fentanyl in Mexico.

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