Counterfeit opioid drugs are tricking users--sometimes with lethal results

Law enforcement officials and medical professionals say that counterfeit opioids have been flooding the illicit drug market and have been harming and even killing those who are seeking out powerful prescription drugs.

Law enforcement officials and medical professionals say that counterfeit opioids have been flooding the illicit drug market and have been harming and even killing those who are seeking out powerful prescription drugs. There is widespread fear that users who believe the prescription drugs are safe—because they are quality-controlled products of a regulated industry—could now unwittingly end up ingesting potent cocktails of unknown substances. In many places, the drugs contain fentanyl. As states enact strict prescription limits and closely monitor doctors, fewer authentic opioid analgesics are available. While some opioid abusers turn directly to heroin or fentanyl, the cartels and drug dealers are filling the void, and meeting demand, with tablets they have manufactured to look like the originals. According to a study by the Partnership for Safe Medicines, counterfeit medications containing fentanyl have been found in at least 40 states and have killed people in at least 17 between April 2015 and September 2017.