A person arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in Juneau was in possession of a pill made with fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is much more potent and can be lethal in very small doses.
The pill appeared to be a 30 mg oxycodone tablet, but testing at the Alaska State Crime Lab revealed the active ingredient in the pill to be fentanyl rather than oxycodone, according to a press release from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
This is the first time that a counterfeit prescription opioid tablet made with fentanyl has been identified in Alaska; however, many other states have been seeing these counterfeit tablets for months.
The distribution of counterfeit tablets represents an important public health threat, said the news release, and the general public should be made aware of the significant risks to life and health when purchasing what appears to be prescription medications from any source other than a legitimate pharmacy. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to distinguish a counterfeit pill from a legitimate one.
The Alaska Division of Public Health recently launched a website dedicated to educating the public about the issue of heroin and opioid addiction and providing helpful information and links to treatment and support services for persons who are addicted to opioids. The website is available at: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Director/Pages/heroin-opioids/default.aspx.