CHICAGO - The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a Public Safety Alert warning of a dramatic increase in fake prescription pills that are more lethal and killing Americans at an unprecedented rate.
"It's very concerning because a lot of people who are kids and young adults who may be experimenting with these pills for the first time, the first time could be the last time," said DEA Chicago Special Agent in Charge Robert Bell.
The DEA says the counterfeit pills are flooding the market from criminal drug networks in Mexico. The drugs made to look like Oxy or Adderall are laced with fentanyl or meth, often in deadly doses. The DEA has seized more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills this year.
"If we go with the figure of two milligrams is potentially a deadly dose and do the math, that would be enough fentanyl that we've seized that could have potentially killed about 40% of the US population," explained Bell.
Drug users can buy the fake pills on street corners or in back alleys, but anyone, including minors, can also buy them using a smart phone.
Bell warns the sales are happening, "on the clear net. The Dark Net, people are purchasing them from friends from phone to phone interactions. Also, apps like Snapchat, just any way you can communicate in the phone that communication is happening, and kids are getting a hold of these substances."
Pills you get legally at a pharmacy with a prescription are not impacted. But the illegal look-alikes are pushing the overdose death rate to an all-time high.