September 27, 2021
DEA Warns that International and Domestic Criminal Drug Networks are Flooding the United States with Lethal Counterfeit Pills
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a Public Safety Alert warning Americans of the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.
The DEA’s Public Safety Alert is the first in six years. The goal: Raise public awareness of a nationwide surge in counterfeit pills.
Mass-produced counterfeit prescription pills are distributed by criminal drug networks. The drugs look legitimate at first glance. Fake prescription pills – many containing fentanyl – are killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate.
California, particularly Northern California, is experiencing an opioid crisis.
San Francisco police chief Bill Scott noted that a June 2021 fentanyl seizure contained “enough lethal overdoses to wipe out San Francisco’s population four times over”.
June 2021 – Fentanyl Seizure in San Francisco
Fentanyl amount that it takes to cause an overdose:
About the same size as two grains of salt.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 25 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, is a newcomer to the California illegal drug scene.
In recent years fentanyl has been responsible for more overdose deaths in San Francisco than any other drug.
In May 2021, the SFPD says that officers have seized 7.9 kilograms of fentanyl from dealers on the street and their suppliers so far this year.
What is Fentanyl?
What is Fentanyl?
- Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine.
- However, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
- Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have been identified in more than two-thirds of opioid overdoses reported nationally in 2019.
- Fentanyl is the most potent opioid pain reliever available for use in medical treatment.
- And fentanyl is extremely addictive.
Who is At Risk for Fentanyl Overdose?
- Most individuals never try to take fentanyl.
- However, many illegal drugs now contain fentanyl to ‘increase the strength’ of the drug sold.
- Especially since COVID-19 – adolescents, parents, professionals, athletes and more can now more easily buy illegal ‘party drugs’ on the internet.
- Illegally made drugs are not tested for quality. Illegal drugs vary wildly in purity and strength.
- Increasingly, illegal drugs bought on the internet (and sold on the street) contain fentanyl. Just a few grains of fentanyl powder causes overdose.
How powerful is Fentanyl?
- A lethal dose of fentanyl is considered to be 2 milligrams. If fentanyl is taken with other opiates, the lethal dose is smaller than 2 milligrams.
- A sweetener packet at restaurant tables contains about 1,000 milligrams.
- Two milligrams of fentanyl can kill you.
- In individuals with a developed tolerance, the lethal dose of fentanyl is very small compared to the potential lethal doses of other opiate drugs.
- For example: A lethal dose for heroin is reported to be between 75 and 375 mg. A lethal dose of fentanyl for most adults is 2 milligrams.
Who Takes Fentanyl?
- Who takes fentanyl? Dr. Christopher Colwell, the chief of emergency medicine in San Francisco at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, has recently seen an increase in the emergency room for medical issues related to fentanyl use and overdoses.
- Dr. Christopher Colwell has seen a variety of patients in his ER needing treatment for fentanyl. Patients included nurses, a professional athlete, a drug dealer and a lawyer who lost consciousness in court. Also needing emergency treatment for fentanyl were two young adolescents, 14 and 15 years old; and a 7 year old who got into a stash in her mother’s purse.
- “That’s just in the last couple weeks,” Colwell said. “It’s really remarkable because it runs the entire spectrum. This affects all walks of life, all folks. It’s hard to overstate how impactful it can be to anyone. It doesn’t seem to care about race or background or gender — or anything.” Read more at Fentanyl has changed the whole landscape’: San Francisco faces worst drug epidemic ever
- Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is very effective at relieving moderate-to-severe chronic pain.
- Oral formulations of fentanyl contain an amount of the drug that can be fatal to a child.
- The difference between a therapeutic dose and a deadly dose of fentanyl is very small.
- There are many illegal analogs and derivatives of fentanyl that are much stronger than the prescription version.
- Recreational users often seek fentanyl as a substitute for heroin.
- Increasingly, many illegal drugs now contain fentanyl to ‘increase the strength’ of the drug sold.
- The problem: A few extra grains of fentanyl can cause death.
- For Details on Addiction Recovery Help Available, See Silicon Valley and East Bay Medical Detox, Dual Diagnosis Rehab
Is Fentanyl use really a problem?
- The number of deaths from fentanyl overdoses has jumped by more than 2100% in California in five years. The most recent estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show that overdoses of synthetic opioids (mostly fentanyl) killed nearly 4,000 residents in California last year.
- Drug deaths in San Francisco are averaging about two a day. Fentanyl has flooded the illicit drug market.
- Many overdoses occurred from illegal drugs purchased that had added fentanyl. The buyers had no awareness that fentanyl had been added. Illegal drugs are not tested for purity.
- The CDC has predicted there will be record breaking amount of drug overdoses as the number continues to rise.
- Although the opioid epidemic seemed to slow in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 caused a ripple effect of death from the disease, and an increase in addiction.
- Drug overdoses rose across the country during the coronavirus pandemic. But in San Francisco, overdoses skyrocketed. In 2020, drug overdoses claimed 713 lives.
- This was more than double the 257 San Francisco residents who died of the COVID-19 virus in 2020.
What is the treatment for Fentanyl overdose?
- Naloxone is the treatment for rapidly reversing a fentanyl overdose.
- However, getting overdose treatment in time to avoid death is a challenge. Fentanyl is a fast-acting drug; every minute is critical in an overdose situation.
- Those experiencing an overdose involving fentanyl may require higher naloxone doses and multiple administrations to reverse the overdose and to become stabilized.
- Police and first responders at a crime scene or helping an overdose victim are at risk from inadvertently touching or inhaling any fentanyl powder that may be present.
What is the treatment for Fentanyl addiction?
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is considered the ‘gold standard’ treatment for opioid addiction.
- At New Start Recovery Solutions, we use Medication-Assisted Treatment for treatment of addiction to opioids, including fentanyl.
- In Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), we use FDA approved medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide whole patient treatment for fentanyl and opioid addictions.
- There is no painful withdrawal with medication-assisted treatment. The M.A.T. medication also reduces cravings.
- There is life beyond opioid addictions – we can help! Call 866-303-6275 for a confidential consultation.
Multiple Celebrity Deaths from Fentanyl in 2021
In 2021, there have been multiple unfortunate and high profile celebrity deaths caused by fentanyl.
None of these individuals meant to take fentanyl. They were, however, taking illegal drugs. And those drugs contained unexpected fentanyl.
Recent celebrity overdose deaths include:
· Michael K. Williams Died of a Drug Overdose, Authorities Say
· ‘The Flash’ actor Logan Williams’ cause of death confirmed as accidental drug overdose
· Three dead of overdose in Venice, including comic Fuquan Johnson
Overdose Deaths Surge Across the US
“The United States is facing an unprecedented crisis of overdose deaths fueled by illegally manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, JD, said in the DEA Public Safety Alert.
The DEA released a new web page – One Pill Can Kill – to educate the public about counterfeit prescription look-alike pills.
“Counterfeit pills that contain these dangerous and extremely addictive drugs are more lethal and more accessible than ever before,” Milgram added. “In fact, DEA lab analyses reveal that two out of every five fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose.”
So far this year, the DEA and other law enforcement officials have seized more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills. This is more than in the last 2 years combined.
Methamphetamine is also created as counterfeit pills. Fake prescription pills designed to look like opioids include oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin), and also like alprazolam (Xanax) and amphetamines (Adderall).
Counterfeit Pills Sold on Social Media and E-commerce Websites
Most counterfeit pills smuggled into the U.S. are produced in Mexico.
Chinese suppliers provide the chemicals to manufacture fentanyl, the DEA said.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
at New Start Recovery Solutions
M.A.T. is the ‘gold standard’ treatment for opioid addiction. Our M.A.T. programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each the needs of each patient. Also, with MAT – there is no painful withdrawal and cravings are minimized.
Treatment with the FDA approved medications methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone are recognized to be lifesaving and the most effective forms of treatment for opioid use disorder.
Research shows that a combination of medication and behavioral health therapy can successfully treat opioid addiction disorders. For those struggling with addiction, M.A.T. helps to sustain long-term recovery. Also, M.A.T. helps to prevent and reduce opioid overdose.
“We know what works,” said Patrice A. Harris, M.D., chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. “We can point to states where making access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) has been a priority, and the mortality rates are doing down. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provisional numbers yet again underscore that this epidemic will not be reversed until we deal with access issues and stigma associated with opioid misuse.”With opioid deaths increasing, AMA urges expansion of proven treatment
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