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Fentanyl, illicit narcotics found in Mexican pharmacies


Health alert from  LA County Public Health

The Los Angeles Department of Public Health has issued a health alert warning residents that fentanyl and other illicit narcotics have been found in pharmaceuticals in Mexico. Residents should be aware that a new report indicates the pills were purchased at legitimate pharmacies.

The Los Angeles Times reported that 55 pills purchased from 29 pharmacies in eight cities in Mexico were tested, and more than 50% of the pills were determined to be counterfeit. More than a third of the 40 opioid pain medications purchased tested positive for illicit fentanyl rather than a prescription opioid medication. Twelve of 15 Adderall samples tested positive for other substances, including methamphetamine and ecstasy. Sometimes entire bottles that appeared to be factory-sealed were tainted.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the pharmacy locations included Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum, Tijuana, Nuevo Progreso, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. The pills that were purchased included Adderall, Percocet or oxycodone.

Fentanyl is a colorless and odorless opioid that is used for pain and anesthesia when prescribed by medical clinicians, but it is also illegally manufactured in clandestine labs and sold illicitly both on its own and mixed with other illicit substances such as methamphetamine and heroin. It is also being laced into counterfeit pills, including those resembling Xanax, MDMA, and powders such as heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine. When taken, fentanyl can rapidly cause someone to stop breathing and die. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

Recommended actions for the public:

•  The safest course of action is to avoid using pills from any sources besides those that come from an FDA-licensed pharmacy or are prescribed by your healthcare provider.

•  Avoid using substances alone.

•  If using substances, use with a trusted person who can respond in case of an overdose. If you are using substances alone, there are resources to keep you safe.

•  Test substances for the presence of fentanyl using fentanyl test strips before using.

•  Fentanyl test strips identify drugs contaminated with fentanyl and can help individuals make informed decisions about the drugs they use. Fentanyl test strips require dissolving a small amount of the drug supply in water, dipping the test strip into the liquid, and waiting 15 seconds for a result.