Pharmacy News

Dr Marie Sartain
/ Categories: APhA News

CDC: Overdose deaths from counterfeit drugs on the rise

A new report from CDC finds that in recent years, the number of people who overdosed and died from counterfeit prescription drugs has more than doubled. From mid-2019 to the end of 2021, overdose deaths involving counterfeit drugs increased from 2% to 4.7%.

Many individuals assumed they were taking oxycodone (OxyContin) or alprazolam (Xanax), according to CDC. But the drugs were not obtained from pharmacies legally.

These counterfeit drugs contain a variety of unknown substances, and in many cases are tainted with harmful levels of fentanyl.

In the majority of all overdose deaths (93%) involving counterfeit drugs, illicit fentanyl was detected. Overall, nearly 107,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2021, and early estimates for 2022 put that figure at 105,000 deaths, according to CDC.

The researchers found that counterfeit oxycodone was most prevalent in western states, while counterfeit alprazolam was found most frequently in the South. In the western states, overdose deaths from counterfeit drugs more than tripled, from 4.7% in 2019 to 14.7% as of late 2021, likely because of an increase in the illegal and counterfeit drug supply.

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