San Francisco health officials are warning residents of the dangerous counterfeited pills circulating in the state.
Earlier this month, between Oct 13 -17, 2015, 3 adults under 40 years old were hospitalized after ingesting a pill inscribed and sold as “Xanax”, an anti-anxiety pill mostly prescribed for depressed adults. These XANAX were sold in the streets but the labels that were found in the victims’ possession, show it has been manufactured in Jakarta, Indonesia.
According to reviews released by The Peterson Group, one of the leading sources of information about fraud, counterfeited and substandard medicines, Fentanyl, which is found in the pill, may be more difficult than other opiates to reverse with naloxone, possibly requiring extra doses. Opioids are commonly used to relieve severe pain caused by advanced conditions like cancer. Their use, however, is under strict supervision due to its addictive properties and its life threatening side effects, including respiratory depression. Etizolam is a short-acting sedative that produces central nervous system depression. These two agents, when taken together, can result in marked respiratory and central nervous system depression.
Last Thursday, additional records of victims were also reported. This time, five students were intoxicated, ranging from grades 10 – 12. They were immediately sent to the hospital but would be facing disciplinary action once they are to return. Further investigations are being done in Pinole Valley High School. Similar with those found in the San Francisco, the pills all contained fentanyl, a potent, short-acting opioid that lead to overdose and death.
Counterfeit medicines are a life-long enemy not only of the state but of the world but with the advancement of technology, fraudsters have also progressed with their bogus operations. The authorities are currently raising awareness on the prevention of any complications and to stay away from medicines which are sold without prescription.
For people who do purchase prescription drugs on the street, or who are exposed to opioids, the San Francisco Department of Public Health encourages them to have access to naloxone to combat overdose.
Naloxone is a short-acting opioid antagonist that is sprayed intranasally or injected to reverse an overdose. Naloxone is not a controlled substance, can be prescribed by any licensed health care provider, and can be administered by witnesses as a first aid measure. This antagonist is also available for free under the government’s DOPE project, targeting drug users and their friends and families via syringe exchange sites.