GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Drug Enforcement Administration says more phony prescription pills are flooding our streets, leading to more than 100,000 deaths nationwide last year.
“We’re finding that 40% of those counterfeit pills that we’re finding contain a lethal dosage of fentanyl. So (if) you get 100 counterfeit pills, 40 of them can kill you,” Brian McNeal of the DEA’s Detroit office said Thursday.
The DEA says it’s tracking a “dramatic uptick” in the number of fakes. Last fall alone, it said, agents found about 8 million.
The fakes are easier than ever to get online.
“These drug trafficking organizations are harnessing the power and the reach of social media to advertise these pills. They are using emojis — you don’t even have to type words anymore — they’re using emojis in certain order to communicate (that) this is Percocet, or this is an Adderall or this is an oxycodone,” McNeal said.
It’s tough to spot a fake. Many were indistinguishable from real oxycodone, Xanax or Adderall.
“You can’t tell the difference just by looking at them. We have to send them to a lab just to get them analyzed to see what’s actually in them,” McNeal said. “Those counterfeit pills … ha(ve) the same markings. They are the same color, often times. You just can’t trust that what you purchased off of the street is something diverted from a pharmacy. It’s often times made in a warehouse or a barn or some guy’s basement using a blender and some additives.”
“We just want parents out there and caregivers to know that this is out there,” he added.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can reach out to the Grand Rapids Red Project or Network180 for help. You can also call the national substance abuse hotline at 1.800.662.4357.