Tennessee state leaders have issued a warning to citizens, particularly those struggling with opiate addiction. The underground market for painkillers, which many addicts find themselves entangled in, has recently been flooded with Fentanyl-laced counterfeit opiates being sold as legitimate drugs, leaving many unsuspecting users at perilous risk of overdosing.
These fake pills are being purported as oxycodone, hydrocodone, or Xanax on the underground market and are actually cheap, counterfeit opioids manufactured with Fentanyl, often containing lethal doses. According to the CDC, Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that can be up to 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and is prescribed only in instances of extreme pain. Drug dealers have started illegally manufacturing and selling Fentanyl and using it to make cheap imitation drugs, which are being marketed and sold as name brand painkillers.
Because such products are manufactured and sold illegally, there is no oversight of ingredients or dosages in each pill, leaving users in grave danger. According to state health officials, these illicitly manufactured drugs are associated with an increased risk of overdose and death and represent a serious hazard to users who unknowingly purchase them.
Safety and homeland security officials warn that Tennessee is vulnerable to the continued influx of illicit drugs due to the high rates of opiate abuse in the state. Since the mid-2000’s, attempts to reduce the number of narcotic prescriptions has fueled the underground market for opioid drugs. As a growing number of people become addicted to painkillers without a reliable source for prescriptions, the demand for illegal opiates continues to expand and creates a strong market for illicitly manufactured pills.
In July 2016, the first major influx of Fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills hit the underground market in Tennessee, resulting in an increased risk of overdose and death that continues to rage on.
Law enforcement agents are working overtime to seize drug traffickers who sell these dangerous counterfeit pills, but officials urge citizens to take action to help authorities find the sources of such drugs so they can prevent them from continuing to put lives at risk.
Although officials are working to remove these pills from the circulation, the Fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills are almost indistinguishable from legitimate drugs, making eradication efforts slow and difficult.
Officials urge anyone with knowledge or suspicions about fake pills being sold to contact law enforcement immediately. Because these counterfeit drugs are so lethal, officials state that reporting any suspicion of them could end up saving countless lives.