Contamination of Our Drug Supply System

According to the DEA, The most common counterfeit pill found in Minnesota is an illicit substitute for oxycodone, known as M30’s for its markings. It is important to note that there is no concern of counterfeit pills entering the legitimate prescription supply chain.  Counterfeit pills are sold on the black market, either on the street by drug dealers or on the dark web.

OxyContin is a brand-name version of the extended-release form of oxycodone. They are different versions of the same drug. OxyContin and immediate-release oxycodone belong to a drug class called opioids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way and are often used to treat similar conditions. Immediate-release oxycodone and OxyContin both bind to receptors in your brain and spinal cord. When they do this, they block pain signals and stop pain.

Immediate-release oxycodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain, such as from surgery or an injury. OxyContin is usually reserved for longer-lasting pain from the late stages of a long-term disease, usually cancer. Doctors may sometimes add immediate-release oxycodone to treatment with OxyContin during brief moments when the pain becomes severe.

Recently, bout 50,000 fake oxycodone 30 pills containing fentanyl were seized this week during the arrests of three people in the Las Vegas area, federal authorities said. A Drug Enforcement Administration statement did not identify the three “non-U.S. citizens” arrested Wednesday by DEA agents and North Las Vegas police on conspiracy and drug trafficking charges.

A DEA photo showed in a KTNV-TV report depicted blue pills that look like 30-milligram doses of oxycodone, marked with variations of "M-30.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls fentanyl and other potent synthetic opioids the primary driver behind the nation's ongoing opioid crisis. Las Vegas has experienced nearly a 31% increase in overdose and other drug-related deaths from 2019 to 2020, the DEA said, and deaths involving fentanyl almost doubled.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. The illegally used fentanyl most often associated with recent overdoses is made in labs. This synthetic fentanyl is sold illegally as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.

Some drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is because it takes very little to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a cheaper option. This is especially risky when people taking drugs don’t realize they might contain fentanyl as a cheap but dangerous additive. They might be taking stronger opioids than their bodies are used to and can be more likely to overdose.