Fake Oxycodone Pills Laced With Fentanyl Seized In Buffalo
According to New York state attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman, 500 fake oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl were found concealed in a 31-pound marijuana shipment on route to Buffalo. The blue pills look identical to oxycodone and were stamped with the letter “M” and “30”.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid similar to heroin but can be up to 50 times more powerful.
Schneiderman spoke a press conference in Buffalo, warning residents about the pills, which are potentially lethal due to the inclusion of fentanyl:
“These blue pills are death.”
This is the first time counterfeit pills that look like oxycodone containing fentanyl have shown up in western New York. Initial tests revealed that some tablets contained enough of the drug to kill someone in a single dose.
The pills were seized as part of an ongoing investigation by the Organized Crime Task Force. Schneiderman said they had been shipped in from the West Coast, and that other fatal overdoses in California had been linked to similar fake pills.
Despite the seizure, authorities believe it’s likely that other pills have made it to the area and urged drug users to avoid buying pills on the black market.
Illicitly-made fentanyl has been responsible for a marked rise in deadly opioid overdose in Erie County and nationwide. One Erie County resident dies every day on average due to an overdose or suspected overdose of opioids.
According to County Health Department Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, so far, there have been 112 cases of opioid overdose deaths this year in the county, and another 132 that are suspected. Of the 112 confirmed, 83% involved fentanyl.
Nationwide, preliminary data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 64,000 people died from drug overdoses last year, and more than 45,000 were related to opioids.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology