NBC News –
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Las Vegas office is issuing a warning about counterfeit pills reaching the streets that are extremely dangerous, or deadly. “We’ve made some good seizures of basically oxycodone, M-30s being laced with fentanyl,” said Dan Neill, the DEA’s Special Agent in Charge of the Las Vegas office. “It’s concerning because being made with fentanyl, we’re also correlating that with a lot more deaths in the valley.”
Neill says the fake oxycodone, Xanax tablets, and even Adderall are manufactured with a device known as a pill press, capable of generating thousands of counterfeit pills in a matter of hours, then moved to the streets for sale in Las Vegas, and statewide.
“If you were to place one counterfeit and one actual pharmaceutical grade oxycodone next to each other, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” Neill said. “And that’s scary. And by the time you put it into your system. It’s too late.”
The DEA says the bulk of the counterfeit oxycodone tablets are coming in from Mexico, while the pill presses come into the U.S. through China. In the past, seizing a pill press was extremely rare, but Neill says that’s not necessarily the case anymore. “That’s like the Holy Grail for drug enforcement investigators is getting a pill press,” said Neill. But, in the past couple of years, “we’ve gotten three of them, within a short period of time. That’s a pretty significant statement right there that you know more and more pill presses are coming into our area, into the United States, which could generate more drugs.”
And because fentanyl is being used in the manufacture of counterfeit pills, the risks are extremely high for those taking them. Depending on their tolerance and body size, a lethal dose of fentanyl can be as little as just two milligrams.
“The statistics are starting to come in on the number of deaths that happened last year. You know, there’s over 85,000 people that have died last year of a drug overdose,” Neill said. “That’s way too many. Our numbers here in Las Vegas are up also. The number of youth in our community has gone up exponentially. And, that is alarming that scares me, that keeps me up at night.”
Fentanyl is also blamed for up to a third of all drug-related deaths in Clark County last year, and one out of every four in Washoe County.
Neill’s warning is simple. “Here’s the message that I say to people. Unless you get it from a pharmacy, it’s not what’s not worth taking. It could cost you your life.“
The DEA is also planning its National Prescription Takeback day, to help people properly dispose of unused and expired prescription medications. It’s scheduled to take place Apr. 24 at five locations around the Valley.
Those locations are still being determined, but you can get updates on the program through DEA Takeback or call 800-882-9539.
For more information on preventing prescription drugs from being misused, visit www.dea.gov, www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com, www.justthinktwice.com, or www.campusdrugprevention.gov.Counterfeit Counterfeit Oxycodone Fentanyl Opioid Epidemic Overdose Safety Alert