Meant to mimic the look of prescription pills but sold on the street, more than 25% of counterfeit drugs recently tested by the Drug Enforcement Agency contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.1 Because the drug is so potent and it is impossible to tell if these counterfeit pills contain fentanyl without lab testing, many people are overdosing on these pills.
Counterfeit Drugs in Memphis
In Tennessee as a whole, there have been multiple incidents with fake opioids involving fentanyl over the last few years and many people have lost their lives because of them. In 2017 alone, Tennessee’s Dangerous Drugs Task Force seized 12 pill presses that were making these counterfeit drugs.2
Counterfeit pills in Memphis are also believed to be part of the reason for the increase in drug overdose deaths in Shelby County over the last few years. In 2019 alone, before the pandemic hit and made matters even worse, 268 people in Shelby County died of a drug overdose. Of those 268 deaths, 171 involved fentanyl.3 The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation also found that the number of fake opioids in the state increased from 12 submissions in 2013 to an alarming 453 submissions by 2017. Of these 453 total submissions, 58 involved fake opioids in Memphis.4
Stopping Counterfeit Drugs in Memphis & Tennessee
As an addiction treatment center in Memphis, we have seen the devasting impact that these fake pills can have on the community. Fortunately, several agencies are stepping in to try to reduce the influx of these drugs into the area.
Together with the DEA and US Customs, the Tennessee Dangerous Drugs Task Force continually works on halting the flow of drugs through the state. With the growing concerns over counterfeit pills in Memphis and Tennessee as a whole, the task force runs regular sting operations to take the worst offenders off the streets. Their arrests hit the news on a regular basis, but removal of these drug dealers often leaves an opening for another to take their place.
On the other side of the equation are the US Customs and Border Protection officers who carefully inspect all packages for illegal drug shipments. Their efforts help remove pounds of both counterfeit drugs and street drugs from circulating through local communities.
These agencies are also trying to warn and educate the public about counterfeit pills and the dangers of fentanyl. Together these efforts could help save hundreds of lives.
At Vertava Health East Memphis, we understand how addictive opioids are and how tempting it can be to buy these drugs off the street, but doing so could be life-threatening. If you or someone you care about is abusing prescription opioids, it is time to get help before matters spiral out of control. Our addiction specialists in Memphis will guide you through every step of the recovery process. Contact us today to learn more or to get started.