Home » Nearly 100% of Counterfeit Oxycontin Pills Laced with Deadly Fentanyl and Xylazin

Nearly 100% of Counterfeit Oxycontin Pills Laced with Deadly Fentanyl and Xylazin

by Richard A Reagan

Recent laboratory tests have confirmed that almost all counterfeit Oxycontin pills, a commonly abused form of prescription painkiller, are now laced with lethal doses of fentanyl and the animal tranquilizer xylazine.

This alarming trend, uncovered by police and researchers in Rhode Island, poses a dire risk to Americans, particularly those unwittingly purchasing these drugs on the black market.

According to a study published on May 6 by the Journal of the American Medical Association, an overwhelming 99.3% of seized counterfeit oxycodone pills contained fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. 

This sharp increase from only about 10% between 2017 and 2020 highlights a rapidly growing danger in the illicit drug market. Furthermore, the presence of xylazine—a drug primarily used as a sedative for large animals—was also noted in these counterfeit concoctions, contributing to an even greater risk of fatal overdose.

The researchers, led by Dr. Rachel Wightman of Brown University, analyzed 1,176 counterfeit pills collected over five years.

“The number of pills obtained during seizure incidents range from a single pill to thousands. Any pill that yielded a result other than the expected active ingredients as marked was considered counterfeit,” Wightman’s team of researchers stated.

The majority of these pills were designed to mimic Oxycodone, Xanax, and amphetamines but failed to contain the substances they purported to. Instead, they harbored dangerous alternatives that led to increased incidents of overdose deaths.

“Of 137 pills containing xylazine, 135 (98.5%) were counterfeit oxycodone,” the researchers reported, and “xylazine was detected with fentanyl in 136 of 137 pills.”

Particularly concerning is the spike in xylazine-involved overdose deaths, which soared from 102 cases in 2018 to 3,468 in 2021 nationwide.

Experts like Dr. Kimberly Sue from Yale Medicine and Pat Aussem from the Partnership to End Addiction underscore the gravity of this issue.

They highlight that most individuals consuming these counterfeit pills are likely unaware of their true contents, which not only include fentanyl but also xylazine—an agent that depresses central nervous system activity, leading to severe respiratory depression and death. 

Unlike opioid overdoses, which can be counteracted by naloxone, xylazine does not respond to such antidotes, rendering standard overdose interventions ineffective.

The study serves as a critical alert for both users and law enforcement agencies. It underscores the necessity of vigilance and increased scrutiny within drug markets to prevent the distribution and sale of these deadly counterfeits. 

As the opioid crisis continues to evolve, so too does the complexity of combating its spread. The infiltration of fentanyl and xylazine into the black market drug supply is not just a public health issue—it’s a matter of national safety.

The findings from Rhode Island shed light on a terrifying reality that all potential users and their loved ones must recognize and avoid at all costs.

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