Counterfeit prescription drug found in Alaska contained fentanyl

The counterfeit oxycodone tablet actually contained fentanyl. (Courtesy of Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services.)

Late last month the state’s crime lab confirmed that a counterfeit prescription opioid tablet was found in Alaska. The small blue pill looked like a generic oxycodone tablet but was actually made of the much stronger drug fentanyl. This is the first such pill found in the state, but they’ve been circulating in the Lower 48 for over a year.

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People who buy drugs illegally may not be aware they are getting such a powerful opioid and could more easily overdose when using it, Chief Medical Officer Jay Butler said.

“In general use of illicitly obtained drugs is always going to be a game of Russian roulette,” Butler said.

People should seek treatment for their addictions, Butler advised, but if treatment isn’t available they should exercise caution with illegal drugs.

“Never use any kind of opioid medication alone,” Butler said. “Always have someone around who can help you if you overdose. Have Naloxone available. That’s the drug that can reverse the respiratory depression from opioid overdose. And avoid mixing drugs. Many people who die of an overdose have multiple drugs and alcohol on board at the time of death.”

The state plans to start distributing Naloxone to law enforcement agencies and health workers next week, Butler said. The medication can be injected or administered through a nasal spray.