Nebraska DEA highlights new campaign following spike in fake pills & overdoses

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 7:55 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Over the last few months, DEA investigators said they’ve seen a sharp increase in fake pills across the state and across the country. That spike is now leading to a public safety alert for the first time in six years.

Agents with the DEA said they’ve seized roughly 9.5 million counterfeit pills, which is more than the last two years combined.

The DEA has reported a significant spike in pills with more than two milligrams of fentanyl, which is what they consider a deadly dose. According to the DEA, the amount of pills with fentanyl is what’s most alarming. Laboratory testing shows that two out of every five pills that contain fentanyl have a lethal dose.

“Just a little bit, like the tip of a pencil is enough to kill somebody, so if you get that concentrated in one pill it can actually be that one thing to kill somebody,” Justin King with the DEA Omaha Division, “We see that in overdoses and we see it unfortunately in a lot of deaths as well.”

The DEA said these deaths are preventable and just because a pill looks like it’s from a pharmacy, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case.

Agents said the number of fake pills they’ve seized has jumped by 430-percent and just last year the CDC reported more than 93,000 deaths from overdoses, the most ever recorded.

Here in Nebraska, the DEA has seized 32,000 pills this year, three times the amount seized last year. All of these alarming statistics have led to the One Pill Can Kill campaign.

“That one pill could be life and death, it could actually kill them and if somebody is in a group of people or someone that has these, you don’t know what’s in that, you don’t know where it was made,” King said, “Think about who you’re trusting with your life when you’re taking these pills because you just don’t know.”

The One Pill Can Kill campaign is just one of the many ways the DEA is fighting this epidemic of fake pills. Resources and information on how to identify counterfeit pills, and keeping yourself safe can all be found on their website.

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