A Warning on Counterfeit Prescription Drugs from Mexico

A Warning on Counterfeit Prescription Drugs from Mexico

Below is a warning issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on counterfeit prescription drugs coming into the States from Mexico that are causing fatalities. Beneficiaries who use pain medication should be especially aware of this warning.

Also, we have a new fraud alert on Opioid Fraud and Abuse. Opioids have killed more than 47,000 people to date, and  2.1 million Medicare beneficiaries have an opioid disorder. This alert discusses what opioids are, what opioid fraud and abuse looks like and where to report it. Available in English. Please share and report any such fraud to our California Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-855-613-7080.


DEA issues warning over counterfeit prescription pills from Mexico


The Drug Enforcement Administration is alerting the public of dangerous counterfeit pills killing Americans. Mexican drug cartels are manufacturing mass quantities of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid that is lethal in minute doses, for distribution throughout North America.


Based on a sampling of tablets seized nationwide between January and March 2019, DEA found that 27 percent contained potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.


“Capitalizing on the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse in the United States, drug trafficking organizations are now sending counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in bulk to the United States for distribution,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “Counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin are responsible for thousands of opioid-related deaths in the United States each year.”


Fentanyl and other highly potent synthetic opioids remain the primary driver behind the ongoing opioid crisis, with fentanyl involved in more deaths than any other illicit drug.


“Fentanyl laced counterfeit pills are being sold in our communities in southeast Texas without any regard for the potentially deadly consequences. Every time someone takes one of these pills, they are putting their life in the hands of a drug dealer,” said Houston Division Associate Special Agent in Charge J. Todd Scott. “We will continue to work tirelessly to identify and arrest these dealers pushing this deadly poison in our communities.”


A lethal dose of fentanyl is estimated to be about two milligrams, but can vary based on an individual’s body size, tolerance, amount of previous usage and other factors. The full Fentanyl Signature Profiling Program Report on the recent drug sampling and testing is available on the DEA.gov website.

Karen Fletcher
Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.

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