As reported by CBS News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report linking 56% of overdoses in ten states to fentanyl. The report examined 5,152 deaths that occurred from July – December 2016.
According to the CDC, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 – 100 times stronger than morphine. Although there are legitimate medical uses for the drug, most of the recent cases of fentanyl overdoses are from illegally made fentanyl. In their July 2016 Intelligence Briefing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said that “Hundreds of thousands of counterfeit prescription pills, some containing deadly amounts of fentanyl, have been introduced into the U.S. drug markets, exacerbating the fentanyl and opioid crisis.” The CDC admits that it is impossible to know the exact scope of fentanyl’s role in the opioid epidemic due to some law enforcement agencies not looking for counterfeit pills.
In September, PSM released its 40 States and Counting: The Deadly Combination of Imported Fentanyl and Counterfeit Medicines report that documented 40 states in which evidence of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl had been found, with deaths in 16 of those states. Less than two months later, the total is now up to 42 states, with deaths in 17. The ten states included in the report are Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The only state on this list that PSM has not found any reporting of counterfeit pills made with fentanyl is Wisconsin.