25 July 2016

Experts Fear for Safety of Those with Prescription Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a major problem on both sides of the Atlantic, but opioid addiction seems to be a growing concern for health and law officials in the US. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in that country, counterfeit pills are flooding the market, and the problem is set to get worse. These pills have been laced with fentanyl, the deadly substance responsible for the death of pop legend Prince.

Opioid Addiction

Prescription drug addiction was thrust into the spotlight in April when Prince was found unresponsive in the elevator of his home, Paisley Park. He was later pronounced dead, and reports of a decades-long addiction to opioid drugs began to surface. It was revealed that the star started taking opioids to treat a hip problem before developing an addiction that eventually took his life.

Unfortunately, many more people both in America and here in the UK are struggling with addictions that have developed as a result of being prescribed medication for a legitimate condition. The big problem in the States, however, is the fact that these counterfeit pills are made to look like pharmacy-grade medication.

American prescription drug addicts are typically buying medication online illegally, but these pills can be extremely dangerous. Fentanyl is between fifty and one hundred times more potent than morphine, so even a small amount can be fatal.

Risk of Overdose

It is almost impossible to tell from looking at the pills that they are not pharmacy grade, and this is putting lives in danger. Those who have developed addictions to opioid medications are risking overdose and the harmful consequences that can occur as a result. DEA spokesperson Melvin Patterson said, “It’s a huge concern. People don’t know what they are getting.”

Drug dealers are quickly realising the huge profits they can make by supplying cheap counterfeit pills. However, those who take the pills are risking their lives. Between January and April 2016, nine people in Florida died after taking fake Xanax while ten people in Sacramento died as a result of fake Norco pills. A DEA reported stated, “This is becoming a trend, not a series of isolated incidents.”

Hugely Profitable

The DEA has estimated that manufacturers can make over 660,000 pills per kilo of ingredients, and each pill is sold for between ten and twenty dollars. Since suppliers and dealers stand to make millions of dollars in profits, it is expected that the problem is only going to escalate. In the US, eighty people died from an opioid overdose every day in 2014. This shows how many individuals are relying on opioid medication and how dealers are set to make a small fortune by supplying fake pills.

The report also stated, “Fentanyl will continue to appear in counterfeit opioid medications and will likely appear in a variety of non-opiate drugs as traffickers seek to expand the market in search of higher profits.”

It also mentioned the fact that there are likely to be more overdoses and deaths from medications containing the deadly fentanyl. Those who are buying illegal opioid medications are more likely to give themselves inaccurate doses.


This is not the first time that those with drug addiction have been targeted by unscrupulous drug manufacturers and dealers. In 2006, heroin addicts were targeted when drug suppliers mixed heroin and fentanyl in order to make the drug stronger. More than one thousand people died as a result. DEA agents traced the source back to a lab in Mexico, which put an end to that epidemic.

Nevertheless, this new epidemic threatens to spiral out of control as the source has been traced to China, where laboratories are also producing legal pharmaceuticals for use in the US. It has been reported that all fentanyl manufactured in the Chinese labs is for use abroad, and it is mainly sold to drug producers in Mexico.

DEA agents fear that this current fentanyl epidemic could become huge. In 2015 alone, there were eight times more fentanyl seizures than there were during 2006. The fact that a number of small-scale labs have also been found in the US and Canada means the traditional fentanyl market is expanding at a tremendous rate.

The problem is made even worse because of the fact that suppliers are using complex shipping routes that see packages changing hands a number of times before reaching the buyer. This helps to prevent the authorities from identifying the original supplier.

Targeting the Vulnerable

The chance to make a huge profit by targeting vulnerable customers with drug addiction problems is attractive to dealers; unfortunately, it appears as though it will continue to get worse. Sadly, many of those who are addicted to opioid medications will source these drugs online and will be unable to tell from looking at the pills they buy that they are not the real thing.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to prescription drug medication, it is important to get help as soon as possible and avoid purchasing these pills online.


  1. Pills laced with deadly opioid infiltrating drug market, DEA says on prescription drug addiction discoveries

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