Fake pills are ravaging communities across the U.S.

What began in 2015 as an outbreak of counterfeit opioid painkillers and Xanax that contained potentially deadly doses of fentanyl or fentanyl analogues has spread to all 50 states, and has killed residents in all of them.

Illegal pill presses have given drug counterfeiters the ability to adapt.

In 2020, they expanded their offerings with pills mimicking Adderall, Aleve, aspirin and even the diabetes drug metformin, and new, dangerous ingredients such as methamphetamine, isotonitazene, clonazolam and etizolam. The fake pill trade has become such a crisis that in September 2021, the DEA issued a public safety alert to warn Americans about them.

Mexican drug cartels smuggle millions of these pills over the border, but the U.S. also has homegrown traffickers who import ingredients and pill presses from China and manufacture their own deadly pills.

Counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl
Source: Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California

Counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl (Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California)

Save Peoples' Lives with Naloxone

The drug temporarily reverses the effects of opioids and it is available without an individual prescription at U.S. pharmacies in every state. It's often covered by health insurance, and sometimes community programs distribute it for free.

Consult NEXT Distro to learn about access to naloxone in your state.

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Joseph Friedman, MPH, et al,"Trends in Drug Overdose Deaths Among US Adolescents, January 2010 to June 2021," Journal of the American Medical Association, April 12, 2022.

Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics, 2021

Drug Enforcement Administration:

Combatting the Opioid Crisis: Exploiting Vulnerabilities in International Mail (United States Senate, January 2018)

Report On The Potential Impact Of Drug Importation Proposals On U.S. Law Enforcement (Freeh, Sporkin, and Sullivan LLC, Freeh Group International Solution, LLC, June 2017)

Counterfeit Alprazolam Poses A 'Major Public Health Threat' (Medscape, August 8, 2016)

“Fentanyl And A Novel Synthetic Opioid U-47700 Masquerading As Street ‘Norco’ In Central California: A Case Report” (Annals of Emergency Medicine, July 26, 2016)