Identifying authentic vs. fake prescription pills; Counterfeit fentanyl on the rise in southwest Ga.

In 2021, 20.4 million counterfeit fentanyl pills were seized by the DEA. Last year, that number jumped to 50.6 million.
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 8:55 PM EST
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TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) — Counterfeit pills containing a lethal dose of fentanyl are on the rise in parts of South Georgia, according to several law enforcement agencies in the region.

In 2021, 20.4 million counterfeit fentanyl pills were seized by the DEA. In 2022, that number jumped to 50.6 million. Experts say that’s enough to kill everyone in the country twice over.

Oftentimes, when pills are bought off the street, it’s sometimes due to a lack of health insurance, or no transportation to the doctor.

Opioid Prevention Specialist Jennifer Wingertsahn says currently; you don’t know what you might get.

“So, think of, like your pain pills, OxyContin, or Percocet, Adderall, or even Xanax. You cannot tell the difference,” Wingertsahn said.

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Attorney Peter Leary says investigating and prosecuting large drug trafficking network cases are very complex. He says oftentimes they need help from other outside agencies. Tift County and Crisp County are two recent counties where law enforcement says they’ve seen several opioid overdose cases and drug trafficking.

“Many of our federal prosecutions that involve armed drug trafficking are linked to criminal gangs. And sometimes there are local gangs, and sometimes there are gangs that have more regional or national ties,” Leary said.

Experts say it’s hard to spot counterfeit drugs. The only real way to know if a drug is counterfeit is through chemical analysis done in the laboratory.

From 2010 to 2020, the total number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Georgia increased by 207%, according to the Department of Public Health.