The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a Public Safety Alert Monday warning of the surge in illegal fake painkillers combined with illicit fentanyl or methamphetamine.
The Public Safety Alert, the first warning in six years, highlighted the surge in fentanyl and methamphetamine-laced pills mass produced by criminal drug groups, which are killing Americans at a historic rate, according to a DEA press release.
“The United States is facing an unprecedented crisis of overdose deaths fueled by illegally manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine,” Anne Milgram, administrator of the DEA, said in the press release.
“Counterfeit pills that contain these dangerous and extremely addictive drugs are more lethal and more accessible than ever before,” Milgram said. “In fact, DEA lab analyses reveal that two out of every five fake pills with fentanyl contain a potently lethal dose.”
The fake pills in the U.S. are produced by Mexican criminal networks using Chinese-supplied chemicals, according to the press release.
The DEA seized more than 9.5 million pills in 2021, which is more than the last two years combined, according to the press release. Laboratory analysis found a surge in pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered the lethal amount.
The illicit pills resemble opioid prescription drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax, and Adderall, the press release said. The fake drugs are mostly sold illegally on social media and e-commerce websites, making them easily accessible to kids.
The U.S. saw over 93,000 drug overdose deaths in 2020, marking the largest one-year increase in history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 75% of the 93,000 deaths involved an opioid, usually fentanyl, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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