'One Pill Can Kill': DEA warning of fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl

’One Pill Can Kill’: DEA warning of fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A growing problem is sweeping into our area -- fake prescription pills laced with so much fentanyl they're killing people.

The Drug Enforcement Agency is issuing a public safety alert called "One Pill Can Kill."

The special agent in charge for the entire state says nationwide, the DEA has already seized 9.5-million fake pills this year.

Two in five had enough fentanyl in them that one pill could kill you.

Chief Homeland Security Advisor Brian Dorow's been at the border on drug busts. 

"You know you're taking that risk, assuming they're a counterfeit pill, of possibly jeopardizing your life," Dorow said. 

The DEA is cautioning those who use painkillers to only get them at the pharmacy.

"The frequency and potency of the pills has been increasing," said John McGarry, assistant special agent in charge for U.S. DEA, Wisconsin. "And many of these pills are represented or resemble Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Adderall, Xanax and Vicodin, but they are illicitly manufactured in Mexico and they contain high quantities of fentanyl or fentanyl analogs."

Fake pills may look a little off to a patient who's used the real ones in the past.

"Occasionally mistakes are made in color or sometimes the shape, or there are imperfections," said McGarry.

But to most of us, fake painkillers may look legit.

"These organizations are procuring pharmaceutical grade dyes to put in tablet machines and pressing them with almost -- generating these pills with almost the same authenticity as they would come from a local pharmacy," McGarry said.

The DEA's recovered over 40 pounds of fentanyl in Wisconsin this year, which may not sound like a lot until you consider this:

"If two milligrams is a dosage unit and you break that down to 20-some odd thousand milligrams, that's enough dosage units to be lethal to every citizen in Wisconsin four times over," said McGarry.

Wisconsin's had over 1,000 overdose deaths this year, many related to fentanyl. 

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