Deadly counterfeit pills seized in Tucson

Published: Jun. 14, 2016 at 7:52 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 15, 2016 at 12:19 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Authorities have issued a warning about potentially deadly counterfeit pills found in the Tucson area.

Lt. James Scott, Deputy Commander of the Counter Narcotics Alliance, said fake oxycodone pills were seized recently. The pills were found at a home during a welfare check. The man inside the home was found dead.

Scott said it's not clear at this time if he died because of the pills.

Scott said the pills, made to look like 30mg oxycodone, actually contain fentanyl along with other fillers.

"When these pills are made, theyre not made in a laboratory. When they mix the Fentynl in these, you can get one pill worth twice the amount of Fentynl in it, which is enough to kill somebody. It's like playing Russian Roulette when you take them. You never know what you're going to get," Scott said.

Scott said there have been three cases involving Fentantyl in the past nine months. Two of the instances involved fake oxycodone.

"If someone actually created this pill with two specific ingredients of oxycodone and Fentanyl and made it into a tablet with the imprint code.. That's a commercially available signature and that is of great concern to those people out there who might be taking this product," said Keith Boesen, director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.

"For this to enter the market, would be catastrophic," Boesen said.

Boesen adds, consumers who get their medication from a pharmacy should not be worried about their medication being altered. He said the pharmacy chain in very well regulated.

Fentanyl, the drug linked to the overdose death of musician Prince, is a very powerful opioid painkiller.

According to the Associated Press, pain patients who have built up a tolerance to other prescription painkillers, or who have become addicted, sometimes seek out stronger drugs such as heroin or fentanyl.

The DEA said there were more than 700 fentanyl-related overdoses in late 2013 and 2014.

According to several reports, the Mexican cartels are mixing fentanyl into their products -- like heroin, cocaine and counterfeit pills -- to make them stronger. Fentanyl is easier and cheaper to produce for the cartels, resulting in a higher profit margin.

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