ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – Over the last six months, Washington County, Virginia Sheriff Blake Andis and his deputies have seen an increase in the circulation of counterfeit pills.
“It’s difficult, I guess, for the user to tell,” Andis said. “It’s like a counterfeit $100 bill – it’s difficult.”
The increase in pills has gone hand-in-hand with an increase in overdoses.
“We’re seeing the switch from methamphetamine, right now, over to the harder drugs such as heroine and morphine – or they think it’s morphine,” he said.
Instead, the contents of the pills are often much more dangerous.
“Problems are coming on this morphine is where the cartels are pressing out their own tablets, and it’s fentanyl,” he added.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the DEA. The agency also states that 42% of pills tested for fentanyl contain at least two milligrams, which is considered enough to be potentially lethal.
Andis explained that recent search warrants have also revealed many suspected overdose victims attempting to use Narcan.
“We’re finding garbage bags full of Narcan that has been used on suspected overdose victims,” he said. “Which reverses the symptoms and all that of this fentanyl.”
But, sometimes, not even the counteractive drug can save the user.
“If it’s lethal enough, then it’s going to kill them no matter how much Narcan they do,” Andis said.
Andis feels the way to halt this trend and save more lives in Washington County is threefold – to conduct more investigations, make more counterfeit drug arrests and clearly warn the community about the dangers of fentanyl.
“Very dangerous,” he said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”