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October 27, 2021

Public Safety Alert: Sharp Increase in Fake Prescription Pills Containing Fentanyl and Methamphetamine

Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) put out a Public Safety Alert warning the American public of the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine. The only safe medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Any pills that do not meet this standard are unsafe and potentially deadly.

Illegal counterfeit pills are easy to purchase, widely available, and often contain deadly doses of fentanyl. Based on DEA testing, it is assumed that two out of every five pills containing fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose. Officials report a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a deadly dose. Additionally, methamphetamine is increasingly being pressed into counterfeit pills.

More than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized so far this year nationwide, which is more than the last two years combined. According to the alert, the number of DEA-seized counterfeit pills with fentanyl has jumped nearly 430 percent since 2019, which is a staggering increase.
Fake prescription pills are widely accessible and often sold online or through social media–making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including teens and young adults.

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

In 2020, 171 total overdoses were reported in Skagit County, with 28 resulting in death. Of these, approximately 36 percent involved fentanyl. So far this year, Skagit County reports 111 total overdoses, with 15 resulting in death. Of these, approximately 67 percent have involved fentanyl.  

Are you or a loved one struggling with substance use? Substance use disorder can be successfully treated with a combination of medications, counseling, and behavioral therapies designed to treat the whole person. To learn more about local treatment options, visit: https://skagitrising.org/treating-opioid-use-disorder/, or call the WA Recovery Help Line at 1-866-789-1511.

Naloxone is a safe and simple medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose. Naloxone is available for free from Skagit County Public Health at 700 S 2nd St. #301, Mount Vernon, WA 98273.