Two Years Later, Illicit Pill Presses are Still a Threat
When we released Illegal Pill Presses with NABP and NADDI in March 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had characterized fentanyl pills as a growing market. And the DEA was prescient. Since then,
- Mexican cartels have industrialized, importing precursor chemicals from China and India to make their own fentanyl in-house. (The DEA reports that cartels manufactured 71 percent of the counterfeit pills regional offices submitted for analysis in 2020.)
- Pressed counterfeit pills made with fentanyl have been found in all 50 U.S. states, with associated deaths in 42 of them (as of October 2020).
- Criminals have expanded their pill offerings to include novel benzodiazepines and methamphetamine, and to mimic Adderall, aspirin and even the diabetes drug metformin.
- Legislative efforts to enhance penalties for pill press crimes have not gained traction.
- Florida's 2018 statute to criminalize selling, buying or possessing a pill press to manufacture counterfeit controlled substances has largely not been taken up by prosecutors.
Law enforcement has seen some tremendous successes shutting down counterfeiting operations, but little legal or regulatory progress around pill presses has been made in the last two years. PSM urges federal action on this issue: The pill press as a vehicle for the distribution of dangerous drugs is not going away.
PSM resources about pill presses
Anyone with a pill press has the power to make any kind of counterfeit pill, whether that's fake oxycodone made with fentanyl or blood thinners with no active ingredient.
LAPPA's Pill Presses: Summary of State Laws (February 2021) offers a thorough survey of state statutes.
In 2019 we gathered experts and family advocates to speak about illegal pill presses. Watch highlights or the entire event on YouTube.