The Portland Police Bureau's Drugs and Vice Division and the Multnomah County Health Department want to warn the community about counterfeit prescription drugs that are being illegally sold in the Portland area, around the state and online.
These illegal counterfeit drugs are marketed and sold as prescription drugs such as Xanax, Oxycodone, Alprazolam and others. Samples of the drugs seized by the police that were analyzed by the Oregon State Crime Lab showed that the counterfeit drugs often contain extremely potent substances that can and have caused overdose deaths. For example, officers have investigated counterfeit oxycodone tablet cases where the pills actually contained heroin, Fentanyl (Fentanyl Analogues), Tramadol, Alprazolam and other substances. In another case, purported Xanax pills contained the drug U-4700, a strong and deadly synthetic opioid. The imprints and markings on the counterfeit pills are made to resemble the actual prescription pills, and these imprints on the counterfeit pills constantly change, so there is no way to identify counterfeits just by the imprint markings.
Officials want to warn the public that fentanyl and other opioid analogs are extremely potent and have caused accidental overdose deaths in Portland and around the state. Fentanyl and other opioid analogs cross the blood-brain barrier faster than more commonly encountered opioids and can be 100 to 10,000 times more potent than morphine or heroin.
The public should not purchase medication from black market dealers or from unlicensed distributors, as these drugs are oftentimes counterfeit and contain deadly opioids or opioid analogs. All prescribed medication should be obtained from licensed professionals.
"Any pill not purchased from a pharmacy should be considered counterfeit," said Dr. Paul Lewis, Multnomah County Health Officer, "You will almost never be getting what you think you are buying, even if it looks legit. And that deception could kill you."
Local health officials identified more than 180 opioid overdose deaths in 2017 and the same pace continues in 2018. "In 2017, the number of deaths from the highly potent drugs like fentanyl tripled from 15 to 45," Lewis said. "And that trend is expected to continue."
Real-time monitoring of opioid overdoses in the Tri-County region Oregon Pain Guidance may be found at https://portlandprofessional.oregonpainguidance.org/ At this time emergency medical response services, hospital emergency departments and urgent care clinics are not reporting any increase in overdoses.
Multnomah County's syringe exchange offers clients overdose rescue kits, which include naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose. Naloxone -- which anyone can buy at a pharmacy without a doctor's prescription -- can rapidly reverse a heroin or prescription opioid overdose, restoring normal breathing to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped. To learn more about naloxone and overdose prevention visit:
Community members concerned about illegal drug activity in their neighborhood should report the information on line at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/30740 or call the Drugs and Vice Division Drug Complaint Hotline at 503-823-3784.