DEA Faces New Drug Problem: Fentanyl Made to Look Like Other Painkillers Can Cause Fatal Overdoses

March 3, 2016 | By admin

Law enforcement, health officials and other concerned observers are growing increasingly concerned about a new cause of drug overdoses: high-potency prescription painkillers mislabeled as low-potency medications.

This particular painkiller abuse problem has begun to spread throughout the country. In Tennessee, for example, officials said there have been at least two dozen cases in recent months involving high-potency pills that were marked as oxycodone or Percocet and sold illegally. The pills, said Tennessee authorities, actually contained higher-potency drugs like fentanyl. This kind of deception has the potential to lead to serious health issues, including overdoses. One Tennessee official suggested that it’s the equivalent of playing Russian roulette every time a person illegally buys a prescription pill on the street.

The same problem has popped up in San Francisco, where the local health department indicated that a number of prescription drug overdoses were caused by mislabeled Xanax pills containing fentanyl.

In Cleveland, federal DEA agents busted a man who was allegedly selling 900 fentanyl pills deceivingly marked to look like oxycodone.

Even Canada has seen several recent cases of drug overdoses involving oxycodone “lookalike” tablets being filled with fentanyl.

The reason that more and more drug dealers are trying to sell high-potency fentanyl as oxycodone is that the latter usually fetches a higher price from drug users. The end result is that individuals who buy, and subsequently use, the painkillers may receive a bad surprise.

Carole Rendon, the acting U.S. attorney in Cleveland, said that the mislabeled prescription pills present a serious overdose risk to users. In the worst cases, observed Rendon, the pills could cause a fatal overdose. That’s because fentanyl, which is commonly used by cancer patients to treat chronic pain, is up to 40 times more powerful than heroin. According to the DEA, fentanyl was responsible for more 700 fatal overdoses over an 18-month period starting in late 2013.

For additional information about painkiller abuse, view the article, “New Twist in Addiction Crisis: Deadly Painkiller Impostors.”


If you or a loved one has been charged with illegal prescription drug possession, simple possession of marijuana, or any other drug crime in New Jersey, you should speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer immediately. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Lombardi and Lombardi, P.A. will help you fight your drug offense charges. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.


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