Federal authorities issued a warning to the public Monday regarding the severe dangers posed by counterfeit prescription pills containing the extremely potent and often deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Mass quantities of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl are being manufactured by Mexican drug cartels for distribution throughout North America, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which reported that a sampling of tablets seized nationwide between January and March, revealed 27% contained potentially lethal doses of the substance.
A lethal dose of fentanyl is estimated to be about two milligrams, depending on a person’s weight, tolerance, previous usage and other factors, the DEA reports.
Counterfeit pills containing fentanyl and heroin laced with it cause thousands of opioid-related deaths in the U.S annually, and fentanyl is involved in more deaths that any other illegal narcotic, according to the DEA.
“Counterfeit prescription pills and overdose deaths do not discriminate and they impact every community within every demographic,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge William D. Bodner. “These counterfeit pills are extremely dangerous and often times the user is unaware of how lethal they are and what’s inside them.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health urged anyone who needs drug-abuse help — or knows someone who does — to call the 24-hour Substance Abuse Service Helpline at 844-804-7500.
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