DEA issues warning over fake prescription drugs laced with potentially deadly doses of fentanyl
The DEA just issued its first public safety alert in six years in the wake of fake prescription pills that actually contain deadly substances being distributed.
What is alarming about these counterfeit drugs is how much they look like the real thing.
It's almost impossible to tell the difference between pills that look just like oxycodone, Xanax and Adderall. But according to the DEA, there are phony pharmaceuticals that are made in a pill press to look like them and contain deadly doses of fentanyl and methamphetane.
"They're preying, quite literally, preying on such a vulnerable population," says Linda Ventura. She knows the pain of losing a loved one to drugs. Her son, Thomas, died of an overdose in March of 2012 at the age of 21. She says fake pills like this will lead to more death.
"It's heartbreaking for any family member that's going to have to join a club that they should never belong to," Ventura says.
So far this year, the DEA has seized more than 9.5 million of these counterfeit pills -- more than the last two years combined.
In 2020, more than 93,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, largely because of fentanyl.
Steve Chassman, with the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, says fentanyl test strips are available from his organization or at the THRIVE community centers in Islandia and Westbury.
"If you think you're getting pharmaceuticals that you're buying on the street, we are encouraging people to test those pharmaceuticals," Chassman says.
Ventura's group, Thomas' Hope, also has the test strips available. But she says the ultimate goal is to help people recover from drug use disorders.
"If you want help, just reach out," Ventura urges.
The fentanyl-laced pills have already made their way to Long Island.
The Suffolk Police Department says it has already seized counterfeit pills containing fentanyl.