After seizing more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills in 2021, many of them containing deadly amounts of illegally manufactured fentanyl, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a public health advisory about record numbers of counterfeit pills being made to look like prescription medication.
According to the DEA, the counterfeits “are made to look like prescription opioids such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®) and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®).”
The DEA also emphasized that, “this alert does not apply to legitimate pharmaceutical medications prescribed by medical professionals and dispensed by pharmacists.”
The AMA supports educating people about the risks of taking drugs that have not been prescribed to them, increasing access to treatment for substance use disorders and multiple harm reduction options to help save lives from a drug-related overdose, including:
- Physicians and other health care professionals can prescribe naloxone (PDF) to patients at risk of and opioid-related overdose.
- Individuals without a prescription can go to their pharmacy and ask for naloxone under a state “standing order” if their state has one.
- States can adopt legislation that decriminalizes fentanyl test strips as well as ensure that Good Samaritan laws (PDF) provide civil and criminal protections to those who overdose or call for help for someone who has overdosed.
- Store medications in a safe place and dispose of any unwanted or unused medication. Find a disposal location near you; also view these safe storage and disposal resources.