SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash — Editor's note: The above video on the rising number of fentanyl overdoses in the state of Washington originally aired Aug. 21, 2021.
The Skagit County Health Department is warning of a sharp increase in counterfeit prescription pills containing potentially deadly doses of fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In September, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) put out a Public Safety Alert warning of an increase in the availability of lethal fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.
The DEA found that two out of every five pills laced with fentanyl contain a possibly fatal dose of at least two milligrams.
Some of the most common counterfeit pills are made to look like prescription opioids such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin), alprazolam (Xanax), or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall).
Counterfeit prescription pills are widely available and easy to purchase. Pills are often sold online through social media, making them accessible to anyone with a smartphone, including teens and young adults, according to the DEA.
Fentanyl was linked to 67% of overdose deaths in Skagit County so far in 2021, according to health department data. In 2020, fentanyl was linked to 36% of overdose deaths. Washington state overall is on track to have a record amount of overdose deaths linked to fentanyl in 2021, according to the state department of health.