DEA warns of increase in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and meth

The fake pills are marketed as legitimate prescription pills and can contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.


The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a public safety alert warning of an increase of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine in the United States.

The counterfeit pills are marketed as legitimate prescription pills and are killing Americans at an unprecedented rate, according to the DEA alert. Some of the fake pills contain two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose.

More than 9.5 million counterfeit pills were seized this year, which is more than the last two years combined. And the pills have been found in every state in the U.S.

The pills are illegally manufactured and are made to look like authentic prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and alprazolam (Xanax); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall).

The DEA warns these pills are often sold on social media platforms — making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including minors.

"The United States is facing an unprecedented crisis of overdose deaths fueled by illegally manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine," Anne Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said in a news release. "Counterfeit pills that contain these dangerous and extremely addictive drugs are more lethal and more accessible than ever before. In fact, DEA lab analyses reveal that two out of every five fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose. DEA is focusing resources on taking down the violent drug traffickers causing the greatest harm and posing the greatest threat to the safety and health of Americans. Today, we are alerting the public to this danger so that people have the information they need to protect themselves and their children."

This public safety alert is the first in six years from the DEA.

This alert does not apply to legitimate pharmaceutical medications prescribed by medical professionals and dispensed by licensed pharmacists, the agency said.