Counterfeit prescription pills; a growing problem in Tennessee

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CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) – Anyone with an addiction to prescription pills purchased on the streets or in some back alley may not realize those pills are far what they think they are.

According to state law enforcement, the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database program is working so good that it has put a choke hold on the availability of prescription drugs desired by opioid addicts, but that choke hold has created a new problem.

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“We’re now seeing with that choke hold an addition to the unavailability of prescription drug on the street, we have people taking advantage of these addicts by providing counterfeit pills,” said TBI Assistant Director T.J. Jordan.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab, counterfeit pills found on the streets turn out to be concoctions that are made from several different drugs including Fentanyl; concoctions that have led to overdoses and even death.

“What it appears to be is not what it is. As a result, we’re seeing theme laced with Fentanyl and then of course we’re having another rise in drug overdoses,” Jordan said.



Earlier this year, Tennessee authorities found 300 pills that resembled Percocet, but were actually pills laced with the deadly pain killer Fentanyl. Last May during a traffic stop, Tennessee law enforcement officers found several fake Oxycodone pills that were also laced with Fentanyl. According to the TBI, these counterfeit pills are being made both within the state and beyond state lines. They also believe the counterfeit pills are being produced in homemade labs with no quality control.

“If you got a pill press, you can basically mimic a Percocet or Hydrocodone and have at it,” Jordan said.

Pharmacists at Access Pharmacy in Hixson are also warning the public about this growing concern.

“People don’t necessarily know how much of the active ingredient is in there. If you get even more than 10-percent of what is supposed to be, it can kill you in one dose,” said Pharmacist Phil Smith.