Officers recovered fake oxycodone pills containing nothing more than fentanyl during a routine traffic stop, according to the Chattanoogan. Last month, Canadian police recovered a large quantity of fake oxycodone that also contained nothing more than fentanyl, according to the Huffington Post.
Another division of Tennessee’s law enforcement made a traffic stop and recovered a number of pills that looked like 30 mg oxycodone pills. The pills contained the imprint “A/215” that is typical of an oxycodone hydrochloride 30 mg pill, according to Drugs.com.
However, when the T.B.I. tested the pills, they found they were counterfeit, and contained nothing but fentanyl.
— Josh DeVine (@TBIJoshDeVine) May 14, 2015
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation warned that the fentanyl pills are masquerading as 30 mg oxycodone. Addressing the public, the warning goes out especially to those who purchase the pills illicitly, whether on the street or from online pharmacies, since they are difficult to tell apart.
Fentanyl can be “50 times as potent as heroin” and “can be deadly in high doses,” according to the TBI Newsroom, and this is true of any illicit drug.
This is especially true of opiates like oxycodone, the generic for Percocet, and hydrocodone, the generic for Vicodin, among other common prescription painkillers, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
The biggest problem with fake oxycodone pills – especially fentanyl standing in for oxycodone – is that fentanyl has a tendency to be more likely to kill in smaller doses because of its potency, according to the National Institutes of Health.
According to the TBI Newsroom, Tennessee prepared for and anticipated the proliferation of fentanyl into the state last year and a rise in the number of abusers, says T.B.I. Director Mark Gwyn.
Opiate addiction is on the rise in the United States but, according to the TBI Newsroom, Tennessee ranks third in the total number persons in the U.S. who are addicted to prescription painkillers.
Gwyn proposed that a type of “heroin vaccine” called naloxone be made available to T.B.I. agents and forensic scientists on an emergency basis via auto-injectors to combat accidental overdose as a result of their work.
Naloxone hydrochloride is the active ingredient in Narcam, a 40-year-old injectable drug that stops overdose in its tracks and restores normal breathing and consciousness. Naloxone is also used in a number of prescription drugs that treat opiate addiction and opiate withdrawal symptoms, such as sublingual Suboxone.
During the announcement, Gwyn called for Tennessee legislators to “enhance our state’s laws” to address how criminals are finding ways “to take advantage of our state’s residents for the sake of profit.”
Special Agent-In-Charge Tommy Farmer of the T.B.I. said via TBI Newsroom that residents should only buy prescriptions from reputable pharmacies, and stay away from online pharmacies.
Many people who buy drugs online do so from Canadian pharmacies because of the prices involved.
It appears that the fake oxycodone pills found in Tennessee may have come from organized crime groups in Canada.
On March 15, police Insp. Darcy Strang from Alberta, Canada, said that officers recovered more than 2.000 fake oxycodone pills, according to the Huffington Post.
The recovered fake oxycodone pills contained nothing more than fentanyl, just like the fake oxycodone pills officers recovered in Tennessee, although no official connection has been made between the incidents.
Farmer, who is also the Director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force, said that though it might be convenient to buy online, there is no way to determine whether the drugs received are the actual drugs ordered.
This is especially true of prescription painkillers. The only way to tell the difference between real oxycodone and the fake oxycodone containing fentanyl like the officers recovered is to have a lab test it.