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Dr Marie Sartain
/ Categories: APhA News

Fentanyl tablet seizures have quadrupled in 6 years

Law enforcement seizures of illicit fentanyl increased dramatically in number and size between 2017 and 2023 in the United States, especially in tablet form, according to a new study funded by the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. The findings, published online in International Journal of Drug Policy on May 13, 2024, highlight the illicit drug supply and the risk of tablets not coming from a pharmacy.

The number of individual pills containing fentanyl seized by law enforcement was 2,300 times greater in 2023 compared to 2017, with 115,562,603 pills seized in 2023 versus 49,657 in 2017.

The proportion of fentanyl tablet seizures to the total number of fentanyl seizures more than quadrupled, with tablets representing 49% of illicit fentanyl seizures in 2023 compared to 10% in 2017.

The study also found a significant increase in the number and weight of fentanyl-containing powder seizures during this time.

“Fentanyl has continued to infiltrate the drug supply in communities across the United States and it is a very dangerous time to use drugs, even just occasionally,” said Nora D. Volkow, MD, National Institute on Drug Abuse  director, in a press release. “Illicit pills are made to look identical to real prescription pills, but can actually contain fentanyl. It is urgently important that people know that any pills given to someone by a friend, purchased on social media, or received from any source other than a pharmacy could be potentially deadly—even after a single ingestion.”

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