One pill can kill: DEA warns of fake prescription medications

West Virginia Headlines
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October 31 2021 11:59 pm

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Prescriptions are meant to help: cure an ailment, relieve pain, but what if they were doing the opposite?

These aren’t the medications you pick up at your pharmacy. These are fake prescription pills.

The DEA seized these counterfeit prescriptions in all 50 states, so they said no community is safe.

We’ve seized about, over 9 million pills the last year and a half or so, that are these fake pills. For us since 2019 that’s been about a 430% increase.

Todd Scott, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Louisville Division

They’re counterfeit pills, illegally manufactured to look like real prescriptions, but what’s inside isn’t safe.

Fentanyl is cheap and it’s easily available but it is extremely powerful and very, very very addictive, and that is what these drug trafficking organizations are playing on.

Todd Scott, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Louisville Division

Fentanyl is highly addictive, and the criminals making these fake pills know that.

In fact, two out of every five have a lethal dose of a much more toxic substance than your prescription medication.

The DEA is putting out a public safety alert, to make sure we get our prescriptions through the proper channels.

With these counterfeits on the streets, even locally there’s an increase in overdoses.

Unfortunately a lot of the times we don’t know what the folks have overdosed on. They’re showing symptoms synonymous with an overdose. We support their breathing, administer Narcan and if they respond to the Narcan then we assume it’s an opioid of some sort.

Chief Jim Blazier, Wheeling Fire Department

Chief Blazier explained this puts a strain on the Wheeling Fire Department, and not just because of the extra calls.

A lot of these folks that we have on the department now, these are folks in their age group and they see them in a very compromising situation, which is disturbing to them.

Chief Jim Blazier, Wheeling Fire Department

Since one pill can kill the message is clear: only take what’s prescribed to you, that you got from a pharmacist or physician.

Taking a pill that’s not prescribed to you from a person you don’t know or a location you’ve never been involved with is extremely dangerous and often times fatal. It’s a version of Russian Roulette, but in this instance I think the gun is fully loaded, all the time.

Todd Scott, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Louisville Division

It’s not just the pills that are the problem. Drug trafficking is also linked to violence. The DEA said in the last year and a half they’ve seized more guns than ever before.

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