Pills made from deadly fentanyl and disguised to look like legitimate prescription pills continue to pour into the U.S. The Drug Enforcement Administration said Wednesday that its staff seized more than 50 million fake prescription pills tainted with fentanyl last year, a 150 percent leap from the 20 million-plus fakes that agents seized in 2021,the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. In Ohio, Michigan and Northern Kentucky alone, DEA agents seized 280,000 counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. The fake pills, manufactured largely in Mexico, are the newest and deadliest threat to people who use drugs, experts say. That's because they appear to be innocuous – regular prescription pills such as oxycodone or Xanax or even the stimulant Adderall. If an unwitting person who does not normally take fentanyl ingests even one pill, it has the potential to be fatal.
"The ability for fentanyl to be morphed into prescription pills is concerning not only because we will see a huge increase in supply," said Newtown, Oh., Police Chief Tom Synan, "but it has the potential to touch a market that is not typically exposed to opioids – especially one that is as powerful as fentanyl." Synan, a coordinator with the Hamilton County, Oh., Addiction Response Coalition, is nationally and locally recognized as an expert in the opioid epidemic and an advocate of health care instead of punishments such as jail for people with substance use disorder.