EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU)— With the cost of just about everything increasing, many people may try to save money on their prescription medication.
Many may use coupons to lower out-of-pocket expenses, but some are turning to another option that’s coming under fire.
The problem is purchasing medication from unauthorized pharmacies. What consumers end up buying could put their health, and their very lives, in jeopardy.
We depend on trusted pharmacies to fill our prescription medications, but some of us are looking for a bargain by putting blind trust into sites that end up being sketchy.
“And those pills look so perfect,” said Shabbir Safdar, the executive director of Partnership for Safe Medicines.
But they are far from it according to Safdar.
“One by one, we watched every single state end up with fake pills, and then one by one, every single state end up with a fatality from fake pills made with fentanyl. It’s quite tragic,” Safdar explained.
Online bargain shoppers of prescription painkillers often get something they didn’t bargain for.
“People that end up with opioids that didn’t come from a pharmacy in the U.S. are getting what they think are, you know, Percocet or oxycodone and increasingly now Adderall which have not the actual ingredient in it at all but either fentanyl or methamphetamine or sometimes both,” Safdar told Eyewitness News.
Counterfeit pills are not just being passed off as painkillers. The bogus medication is being sold to treat such conditions as diabetes, high cholesterol, and even cancer.
“If a product in the pill doesn’t kill you like fentanyl, you know, it’s your disease that will kill you because there wasn’t enough medicine in it to control your blood pressure for example,” said Safdar.
Safdar said the counterfeit pills are coming from Canada, Mexico, and overseas, and often sold on social media platforms. Lately, some of those pills contain the potent synthetic opioid isotonitazene.
“It doesn’t respond to Narcan. So, if an EMT is called and comes to find you they don’t have a chemical antagonist that can reverse the opioid overdose at that point. That’s a… that’s a real danger,” Safdar said.
A danger Shafdar said is worth discussing with your teenagers and older parents.
“You’re hoping that if they know the danger they will make the right choice when you’re not around,” Safdar explained.
Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro recently released a report saying fake pills and fentanyl have become the opioid crisis.
Meanwhile, Safdar said we should urge lawmakers to reject proposals like Canadian drug importation to prevent counterfeiters from entering the U.S. Safe drug supply.