Counterfeit Pills Laced with Deadly Opioid Infiltrating Drug Market, DEA Says
Susan Zalkind - The Guardian
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July 25, 2016

Death by Fentanyl, Part 1: A dangerous opiate called fentanyl is turning one of the worst drug epidemics in U.S. history even deadlier. Fusion correspondent Mariana van Zeller traces the drug’s two sources: pharmaceutical companies and Mexican drug lords. (Fusion)

Hundreds of thousands of counterfeit prescription pills laced with a deadly synthetic opioid have infiltrated the US drug market, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, with the problem expected to escalate.

The pills are pressed using pharmacy-grade machines to look like known prescription painkillers that an increasing number of Americans addicted to opioids seek to buy illegally. They contain various amounts of fentanyl – a synthetic drug between 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. Even a few extra grains of the drug can prove deadly. Often law enforcement only determines they are counterfeit after they are taken to a laboratory for testing.

Potent, unregulated, and, to the untrained eye, indistinguishable from pharmacy grade medication, the counterfeit pills put people who use painkillers for non-medical purposes – 4.3 million in 2014 according to the last federal survey – at risk of accidentally taking a far more potent drug than intended, to often fatal consequences.

“It’s a huge concern, people don’t know what they are getting,” said DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson, citing an uptick in accidental overdoses by unwitting users.

According to the report, the counterfeit pills are sold as Roxycodone for $20 a pill on the streets of Miami, and for $10 each in the New York club scene.

The DEA report, unclassified last week, serves not only as a warning to the public, but provides a new detailed look into the burgeoning, and extremely profitable, fentanyl trade that’s defying traditional trafficking patterns as the synthetic opioid crosses Chinese, Mexican, Canadian, and finally, American borders.

Read the rest at The Guardian

Related: Mexico, U.S. Create Binational Front Against Heroin (El Universal)

Related: Heroin Trafficker's Attorney Shifts Blame to Users, Asks Judge for Leniency (MLive)

Related: Democrats Aren’t the Only Tourists Flocking to Philadelphia; so Are Heroin Addicts (Tribune)

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