As our nation, and Montana, remains in the midst of an opioid crisis, another disturbing trend has emerged: the selling and the use of fake medication. 

These pills, which are often sold online, look like legitimate prescription meds such as oxycodone or Adderall. In fact, people buy them believing that they are similar to the pills you would get from the doctor. 
But many of these fake pills actually contain different ingredients and are laced with dangerous – and sometimes deadly – amounts of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

FILE – This June 17, 2019, file photo shows 5-mg pills of Oxycodone. Native American tribes in the U.S. have reached settlements worth $590 million over opioids. A court filing made Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 in Cleveland lays out the details of the settlements with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and distribution companies AmerisoruceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
Rainbow fentanyl pills come in bright colors and are meant to look like candy, DEA officials said. (DEA/KLAS)
FILE – This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence in a 2019 trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation.
(Getty Images)

Quick Facts:
• According to DEA lab testing, 6 out of every 10 pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose.
• DEA seized more than 50.6 million fake pills in 2022 and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl.
• Fake prescription pills are easily accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms.

A picture of Non-Prescription Fentanyl confiscated by Billings Police(PHOTO CREDIT: Billings Police Department).

 Chances are that you’ve heard one of many tragic overdose stories connected to the use of fake pills.

Tablets believed to be laced with fentanyl are displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration Northeast Regional Laboratory on October 8, 2019 in New York. – According to US government data, about 32,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2018. That accounts for 46 percent of all fatal overdoses. Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for a range of conditions, has been central to the American opioid crisis which began in the late 1990s. (Photo by Don EMMERT / AFP) (Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)

AG Knudsen released the latest numbers on fentanyl seizures in Montana. They are up 11,000%.
Where Did They Come From? 
Most of these pills are produced in other countries; mainly China, Mexico, and India. However, an increasing number of pills laced with fentanyl are being produced in the U.S.  
They are usually produced in substandard conditions, labeled incorrectly, and may include dangerous, unapproved substances.
There are no quality control mechanisms in the illicit labs producing fake pills to ensure dosing is not lethal.  
As stated earlier, online sales via internet marketplaces and social media are the major sources for obtaining fake pills. A significant number of high school and college students purchase Adderall and Xanax from dark web drug markets and/or through social media referrals.

Bags of Fentanyl pills recently recovered by Drug Enforcement Administration Agents in San Diego. (Elliott Macias/KSWB San Diego)

If you or anyone you know takes illicit drugs you can reach out for help even anonymously.