In a rare warning, authorities on Monday asked Americans not to buy drugs online, noting that they contain increasingly lethal doses of fentanyl or methamphetamine.
“Pills purchased outside of official pharmacies are illegal, dangerous and potentially fatal,” writes the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in its first public warning since 2015.
For her, counterfeit drugs are partly responsible for the tragic increase in overdoses, which killed more than 93,000 in the United States in 2020, an unprecedented level.
Made to look like licensed drugs, including legal opiates, are readily available on e-commerce platforms or social media, according to the DEA.
The agency reports a sharp increase in seizures: Police have intercepted 9.5 million counterfeit pills since January 1, more than in 2019 and 2020 combined.
More seriously, he notes, the number of seized pills containing fentanyl, a powerful inexpensive synthetic opioid, increased by 430% since 2019. Among them, two out of five pills contained more than 2 milligrams of this substance, which is considered a lethal dose.
Methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant, is also increasingly being added to these products, the DEA notes.
The vast majority of these counterfeit drugs are manufactured in Mexico and China provides the raw materials necessary to produce fentanyl, the DEA added in a statement.
“Today, we are alerting the public to this danger so that they have the information they need to protect themselves,” said their manager, Anne Milgram, in this press release.