pictured: Comparison between authentic (left) and counterfeit (right) 30mg ox

DEA Issues Public Safety Alert About Sharp Increase in Fake Prescription Pills Containing Fentanyl

LAKE CHARLES, LA, May 23 – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warns the public of the alarming increase in lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine. International and domestic criminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills, falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills, and killing unsuspecting Americans. These counterfeit pills are easy to purchase, widely available, and often contain deadly doses of fentanyl.

Pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous, and potentially lethal. This alert does not apply to legitimate pharmaceutical medications prescribed by medical professionals and dispensed by pharmacists.

Fatal dose of fentanyl, two milligrams
Fatal dose of fentanyl, two milligrams

Drug traffickers use fake pills to exploit the opioid crisis and prescription drug misuse in the United States, bringing overdose deaths and violence to communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths last year, a 15% increase over the previous record of 93,655 in 2020.

United Way of Southwest Louisiana uses its 211 resource line and the DEA partnership tools to assist with launching the One Pill Can Kill campaign to inform Southwest Louisiana of the dangers of fake prescription pills. For more information, visit dea.gov/onepill.

United Way of Southwest Louisiana’s 211 resource line provides immediate information and access to live crisis support that is free and current. Individuals can text "OPIOID" to 898-211 or dial 211. The service is available 24/7/365 and works in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health.

"Our 211 resource line gives those affected by the opioid crisis a confidential connection to help and live crisis support," explains Denise Durel, President and CEO, United Way of Southwest Louisiana. "Anyone can dial 211 for themselves, a friend or a family member to get life-saving information. When 2 out of every 5 pills contains a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl, the crisis is unimaginable."

The DEA and its law enforcement partners seize deadly fake pills at record rates. Officials report a dramatic rise in counterfeit pills containing the fatal dose of fentanyl, two milligrams. DEA-seized counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills have jumped 430% since 2019.

For more information on the subject and links to graphics and fact sheets, visit unitedwayswla.org/opioid.


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About United Way of Southwest Louisiana

Working with the community and many partners for 82 years, United Way of Southwest Louisiana tackles the critical human services issues facing our five-parish footprint of Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis. Our United approach is changing the odds for all children, families and individuals in the community, so that we all have the opportunity to succeed. Learn more about our life-changing work at Unitedwayswla.org and follow us on social media @UnitedWayofSWLA

- Operating in the TOP 9% of all U.S. United Ways. –TOP 125 out of 1300 United Ways!
- Maintains a 4-STAR charity rating with Charity Navigator and a PLATINUM SEAL OF TRANSPARENCY with GuideStar/Candid
- 2022 Winner of the Dedication Award from Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association


About the Drug Enforcement Agency

The Drug Enforcement Administration ensures the safety and health of the American public by fighting against violent criminal drug networks and foreign cartels trafficking in illicit drugs. To accomplish that mission, the Drug Enforcement Administration employs approximately 10,000 men and women throughout the world – Special Agents, diversion investigators, intelligence analysts, and chemists – across 239 domestic offices in 23 U.S. divisions and 91 foreign offices in 68 countries.