DEA issues Public Safety Alert after ‘alarming’ increase in fake prescription medications, several laced with fentanyl


Still life: Medicinal pills and tablets. (Photo By DEA / G. CIGOLINI/De Agostini via Getty Images)

(WJHL) – The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a rare Public Safety Alert regarding counterfeit medications that the agency says are “killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate.”

A release from the DEA explained that this alert is the first to be issued in six years, and comes alongside an increase of both availability and lethality of fake prescription drugs sold on social media and e-commerce platforms.

“Unless you’re taking a pill given to you by a pharmacist or a physician, you’re playing Russian roulette,” said agent Todd Scott, who leads the DEA’s Louisville Division. “We’re seeing too many folks get ahold of pills they don’t even know are counterfeit, often with tragic results.”

According to the release, counterfeits often mimic opioids like Xanax, Oxycontin and Percocet as well as stimulants such as Adderall.

DEA seizures of counterfeit pills have topped 9.5 million in 2021, with lab testing finding a 430% increase in pills laced with Fentanyl since 2019, the synthetic opioid with an average fatal dosage of roughly two milligrams.

The release specifies that the legitimate supply chain for official medications remains unaffected and that Americans should take no prescription medications that were not originally provided to them by their physician or pharmacist.

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