SEATTLE -- The DEA and the Washington State Department of Health are warning people not to take fake Oxycontin or Oxycodone pills purchased from street dealers, online or the black market.
The pills can contain deadly amounts of Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic Opiod painkiller that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It's like playing Russian Roulette. Just one pill can kill you. Three teens have died recently in King County from overdoses.
The pills can be blue or white; the DEA says they are smuggled here from Mexico. The most common pills have an 'M' on one side and '30' on the other.
"The Mexi-blues counterfeit pills look much like the original Oxycontin or Oxycodone that are dispensed by medical professionals so it's very difficult to discern which is which. My only advice would be don't ever buy this type of narcotic off the street," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.
It costs illicit organizations about a dollar to make the pill. They can be sold here for ten times that price because the demand is high because of the Opiod crisis.
"We believe the Fentanyl trend is going to continue as long as there is demand here on streets. That's why it is important for us to get the word out to educate our communities on the dangers of this. As long as there is demand, there will be criminal elements who seize on that and try to take opportunities to profit from it," says Weis.
"The Fentanyl products are all over our state of Washington. Last year, we seized over 16 kilograms of Fentanyl. Which, if you break that down, it's over 8 million dosage units, which is more than the population of the state of Washington. And we're seeing these pills from one end of the sound to the other," said Weis.
The signs of an overdose on Fentanyl include dangerously slowed or stopped breathing, extreme sleepiness, loss of consciousness, confusion, dizziness, weak muscles, pinpoint pupils, profoundly slowed heartbeat, blueish tint to nails and lips and very low blood pressure. Call 911 right away if you suspect an overdose.
Studies show the majority of abused prescription drugs leading to Opiod addiction were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. The DEA's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will be held on October 26th. To find a location to drop off your medications, click here and put in your zip code.
If you have any information to help law enforcement identify the dealers and suppliers of these fake Fentanyl pills, you can submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at www.P3Tips.com or through the P3 Tips App on your cell phone. You can also go to Dea.gov to submit an anonymous tip.