DEA Washington Division Issues Warning: “One Pill Can Kill”
Counterfeit pills being ordered online, laced with fentanyl, causing deadly overdoses
Washington, D.C. – Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Washington Division, is alerting all area residents to an increase in drug overdose deaths tied to counterfeit pills containing the powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl. Manufactured by Mexican drug trafficking organizations, and marketed as a medication such as oxycodone on the illicit drug market, these pills can be deadly. Just one pill often contains enough fentanyl to kill someone.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times stronger than morphine. DEA lab analysis has identified pills ranging from .02 milligrams to 5.1 milligrams of fentanyl per tablet, with 26% of the counterfeit pills tested containing a lethal dose of fentanyl. A deadly dose of fentanyl can be as little as 2 milligrams.
Counterfeit pills purchased online or through social media websites pose a serious public health and safety hazard. These pills may contain the wrong ingredients, contain too little, too much, or no active ingredient at all, or contain other, potentially life-threatening hidden ingredients, such as fentanyl or methamphetamine.
The DEA Washington Division urges the public to obtain prescription drugs only from state-licensed pharmacies that are located in the United States, where the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state authorities can assure the quality of drug manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and labeling.
“We fear young people will find pills especially appealing,” said SAC Forget. “They think they’re purchasing Oxycontin or Xanax, and have no idea that they’re getting deadly fentanyl. They have no idea that one pill could kill them. Educating our students and families about this danger has become one of our highest priorities.”
The DEA will continue to work with all federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, examining all available reporting details surrounding overdose deaths to pursue any investigative leads and determine the origin of the counterfeit pills and their current prevalence across the state. The DEA urges the community to share information concerning the availability of any synthetic opioids as they surface within local drug markets with your local law enforcement agency.
VIEW OR DOWNLOAD the Counterfeit Pills Factsheet