Deadly Counterfeit Pills Found in All 50 U.S. States; Deaths Now Reported in 42 of Them.
Washington, D.C. (October 26, 2019) With the recent report that police in Maui, Hawaii seized 400 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl on October 2, 2020, the United States has reached a sobering milestone: public sources have reported about fake pills made with fentanyl in all 50 states.
Coverage about counterfeit fentanyl pills has become commonplace since the first news about them began trickling in in 2015, but they are no less of a threat today. The number of states that have reported deaths linked to these counterfeits has grown from 38 to 42 since January. Victims of this fake medicine have come from all ages and all walks of life. Some of them knew that they were buying pills made with fentanyl or a fentanyl analog; others believed that they were taking legitimate prescription medicine. None of them understood that a single tablet would cost them their lives.
In March 2019, The Partnership for Safe Medicines, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators released a report, Pill Presses: An Overlooked Threat to American Patients. In it, we identified pill presses and counterfeit pill molds, which are widely available online, as a flexible counterfeit production base that would pose a growing threat to U.S. patients. Since then, fentanyl pills that used to be sold almost exclusively in the form of counterfeit anti-anxiety and opioids have been found mimicking metformin, a prescription drug used by diabetics, as well as aspirin and Aleve. Several large counterfeiting operations have outfitted their pill presses to produce hundreds of thousands of fake Adderall pills made with methamphetamine, and a smaller ring was found making dibutylone pills. Counterfeit pills have been found in other countries as well. In the U.K, similar counterfeiters have sold counterfeit anxiety medications that have led to hospital admissions and deaths.
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About the Partnership for Safe Medicines
The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) is a public health group comprised of non-profit organizations that are committed to the safety of prescription drugs and protecting consumers against counterfeit, substandard, or otherwise unsafe medicines. To learn more, visit www.safemedicines.org.